I have often imagined you in that scene: weightless. This due to your fairy wings, which I know exist because I have never seen behind you.
In those days, we were not of human birth. Instead we discussed how we hatched and how the shells clung to us like honey as we struggled, how our mothers did not intervene. On this particular morning, you taught me
how to walk, because I was featherless. We were by the creek, and you with the sun in your hair looked just like Shenandoah. You dragged the limb of peach blossom beside you, king of small hills, drawing a line in the dirt for me to follow. I remember looking behind me and seeing hoofprints. It’s okay, you said. Keep going.
You stopped where the stream funneled into the lake, that mountain hollow shimmering red with water flies. We sat, so close I could not tell where flesh began, where pelt turned to plumage, you gripping the branch so tightly I thought it would gasp for breath: and then you began to dissect.
I watched you, pulling buds from their sockets, freeing the petals from their calyx. That slow, relentless dismemberment. As if you were simply cleaning the grime from my face, gentle, humming to me as you worked until all the animal was gone, cleared out of me, nothing left but body stripped of meaning.
Baylina Pu is a literary editor for the Yale Literary Magazine and the co-creative director of WORD: Performance Poetry at Yale. Her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, University of Virginia Writer's Eye, Hollins University, and more. You can find her at baylinapu.com.