First Words

by: Julia Bouwsma

When my body came out of my mother,
she pushed; I pushed; flesh tore.
It was no neat cut—tissue tangled purple
and later, even stitches would not hold—
swollen scar uncoiling, a silver nitrate snake
between her legs.

And yet my father’s version omits all blood
and begins instead with a dream

he dreamed
when I was still
inside my mother that he
was in the middle of a vast, green field,
on his hands and knees, searching
for a four-leaf clover
so I could be born.

He searched for hours
before he found one. Then he woke up,
and I was still inside my mother.

He spent the whole next day searching
on his hands and knees, and right before it got dark—
right at dusk when it’s hardest to see—he finally found one,
and that night I was born.

Fable birthed from the gap between these two when their bodies were as close
as two bodies can be,

that rupture was mine—why did you steal it from me?