by Tarah Gibbs
a man said he’d paint my name
on a wide parchment for two dollars.
Papa paid; and the man dipped
his brushes into pots, held back his sleeves
then streaked the watercolors that became the shape
of my name, the edges of my face.
R held a bird nested in its crook, eyes closed,
feathers purple, something like a grin
satisfied, home and warm. I never thought
my name could look so pretty, curves
forming tangerine sunrises only Africa
might know, midnights melting snow
deep in Siberia, violet jungle frogs
along the Amazon. Afterwards, we walked
amid the strange new streets – Papa got lost
twice, cursed – to our sixth house which smelled
of its previous owners. That night, on my bed,
I unfurled the parchment and pinned its corners with
the floppy foot of my stuffed dog and the spine of an old
book – my white, white hand ran over the dried paper,
watermarked, and I felt I could climb mountains.