i did not want to be imaginary
and yet, i was. A number
of years ago my mother wrote me
into existence. To have words
before having a child. Paper
work before the body. The question
always: what works? In this body
i don’t mind being a line
until i realize i can be a plane.
Another way to stretch. As a baby
i didn’t need the extra leg room.
My mother always starts my origin
in the airport. We deplane as a single
file line. She forgets that she picked me
up on one of two stories: arrivals. She forgets
the time that i lost in my crossing
How can you be both the subject and the object?
You aren’t ever sure
of yourself as much as you’re sure
of your poems and their ability
to capture want and feeling
something soft. You are well moisturized
and proud of this, ready to be touched.
By yourself, you are diagnosed
first with Raynaud’s syndrome.
The doctor asks whether your fingers
turn white in the cold. No, you say. They turn
yellow. You learn these are the same thing.
You learn what it feels like to lose feeling
in your fingers. To lose touch.
With your mother, you are diagnosed
with Lupus. She lies to you. You lie down.
You can only write
when you are not hurting too much.
They hold their fingers around their own throat.
They want to catch breath in their body.
They’re the same thing.
They’re swallow. They’re swallowing.
They’re thirst. They’re vowels.
They’re not home. Not yet, anyway.
Chaelee Dalton (she/they) considers their home in motion, but they currently reside in Claremont, California, where they’re studying Physics at Pomona College. In the past, they have written for ILDA, a South Korean Feminist Journal. This is their first published work of poetry.