The Excavation

The Excavation


My 8-yr-old daughter is teaching me
how to live with myself
after 34yrs in this body I can finally

split myself in two & marvel that now I pass
the Bechdel test.
What I’ve let men scavenge—

my collarbones, femurs, the fleshy pads
of my inner thighs, bitemarks
butterflying from the clotted cream

that cornmeal death has made
of my skin—has given
way to blood

poisoning.I haven’t done much but get dumped
by one & tell the other to stop raping
me when I’m dreamcumming

& he finally after 13yrs together & a year
of divorce
understands a sleeping body moaning

is not consent. & while he’s had to learn
truths he should’ve learned as a boy
I too chart a map to my unlearning.

I rewatch the filmstrips of my girlhood
with my girl & she covers her face at kissy scenes
& very practically, very kindly but firmly

lifecoaches the girls/women
You are worth so much more than you know
& finally I hear from the gift of my womb

what my mother never
taught me. My daughter transforms the desert
of my memory—peels the spines

from the cacti, fashions me a crown
that asks Who were you when you weren’t blooming only
for boys? & I recall the night-

blooming cereus, whose bats fly hundreds of miles
one night of the year to sustain themselves
on the sweet nectar, & how many

mornings I missed, how many
dark things I emptied myself for. My daughter
is a graveyard by which I mean ripe

for rebirthing. She pulls me from the beds
I’ve buried & tells me
if she is wise it’s because I’ve taught her

by which she means
I’ve held myself deep within
myself all along.

I’ve plucked bones & swapped
for jackrabbit for woodrat for javelina. O tusks
o glorious horns

I’ve borne
from daughter, from the un-
mothered loam.