Before I Was Born, I Could Smile

by Brett Salsbury

When I was a child my parents read to me. Sleepy squirrels, that kind of thing.

 

No books about native wildlife, no tales from time gone past. Green eggs

 

and ham. Fish. Fish in buckets, fish not for food. Right down the hill

 

from the overlook. Big trees lining the sides. What value life has.

 

Weeping rosemary at the corner. Telltale signs of gossip.

 

But that isn't what we do here.

 

There are passive-aggressive lawn signs. This is still a home on the range

 

with no discouraging words. And buffalo roam. Sure. Manifest Destiny.

 

What I'm sure I own. But I'm here because they came here, because they left me here.

 

Without my ideas. Without honor. I'd like to see jacklight in the moonlight.

 

I'd like the mosquitos to bite me. Locusts, lightning bugs, to live. Turtle—go back to the river.

© 2019 Helen: a literary magazine