after Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

If only someone had told you your true extent

how you connect to mountain glaciers
and tropical orchids. How

this is your time for young children,
excessive salt, lost sex,

how hands you have never felt are waiting in pockets now.

How you come from ancient fish
and before that single
cells that found advantages together.

You learned to speak, didn’t you,
so you could choose instead to write it all down.

How you needed so much help
to carry the lives you made down.

Now you can see through your own skin

how your doubt glints
sure as the glass divide in a taxi
no one you know yet is riding.

What you thought you would need forever
would never have been enough

how you wouldn’t have wanted to be satisfied anyway.

How you spent hours filling bowls to be scraped,
how you will find your own jaw lovely
one day eating from them.

How your daughter takes her first steps tonight
as soon as you lay her down in her crib.

Her own joy
you can’t trespass
but the freedom is yours to leave her.

How you hope to die believing you lived perpetually
with trees
and when it rained, really stormed

in crisis you decided again and again whom you loved.

How the ones who left earth already
light up in the eyes of the ones
here you stopped longing for.

Even now starlight animates everything
about you. Go ahead, look at the strangers.