“Birthright” was first published in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing (March 2019).
Back then, back there — as a child in the summer
on month-long sails with my mother
down the coast of Maine, we’d gaze east,
as far as our eyes could see, across the Atlantic.
Hey, Mom! I think I see France! or maybe…Portugal?
Oh my! Pass the binoculars! Let’s see!
She’d let me believe each island from Kittery Point
to Penobscot Bay might be uninhabited, just waiting
for exploration — or the discovery of a new welcoming land.
She let me practice possibilities.
What do you suppose they do for fun there?
I wonder what they’ll have for supper tonight?
So, in my teens, when I finally made it all the way
across the Atlantic to study in France, it was a matter of course
to fit right in with a new world and its inhabitants —
who, after all, had just been waiting for me to come and join them.
Bonjour, Mademoiselle. Comment allez-vous?
Très, très bien, Monsieur. Merci. Et vous?
Unsure where I am most foreign in the eyes of others —
there, back home — or here, in this life abroad without birthright,
I know I belong because of summer mornings
along Portuguese and French shorelines.
I still connect by looking as far west as my eyes can see
towards those Atlantic islands, grateful liquid bridges never burn.