“My ancestor’s body is a beloved ecosystem”

This poem won Editor's Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2023

Her skin is a concatenate of resin solvent and wax,
a discontinuous film of belonging
in a discontinuous composition of time.
There is a dark zone of ink cropping up in her mouth.
She washes away a marginal language
with microbial slips of saliva. Out falls her prayer.
Seasonal vegetation catches in her teeth, the leafy
green bits becoming abyssalpelagic under the wet plane
of her tongue. I don’t know, she says. It’s ok, she says
as her words turn to figuration, to smoke, to loss.
All of this is the brisk consequence of how whiteness
broke down her categories into phosphenes
it refused to conceive. Meanwhile,
in the chemical intermingling of myth and memory,
she is the ancestor of a woman’s ongoing love.
Her nonfiction leaks out into a syzygy of descendants
who tightly clasp their heirlooms.
She is a beloved ecosystem. She is the river
valley where squirrels spend time gadding about trees
with high calorific values like ash olive and oak.
There is so much residue. All the leaky leafy waxy
bits that are not found on any history quiz.
She is left out of the archive. She is her own archive,
a set of retellings that seep into an inheritance.