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Henry on Birth Day

One day you were born on an airboat in a bight. You stood up in the airboat’s flat foot
and took the jar of water. You looked through the floating teeth of algae and said bah. You said

nah. You said aAAAL. You bared your teeth and emptied the jar. When you were
in the Everglades we canoed from Flamingo and through the canals. It was the 1980s. You thought

the crocodile was an alligator and I corrected you. Many people don’t know that crocodiles live here
too. I put you back in my stomach to avoid the smell at the Flamingo visitor’s center.

Which reminded me of Hurricane Andrew, and I’ve decided to lie about before you were born.
As a sort of test of the genetic trauma theory. When we got back to our little barracks studio

you curled up in the cup of a saw palmetto outside my bedroom, slapped a mosquito off your arm,
rubbed your eyes. One day you were born on the only hill in the Everglades in 2020.

Morning glory and saw palmetto covered the razed bed of invasive Brazilian pepper.
You curled in a mat of flowers I did not recognize, and wind peppered your body

with gumbo limbo scale. Another day you were born in a gator trail on Old Ingraham Highway
and another day on the southwestern tip of Florida cradled in turtle shell, and once you were born

in the detention center on 376th, but mostly you were born in a canoe, into flowing silk
of reed, and the bladderwort cleaned your body with their suckling cups like feeding fish,

and then once too oh yes you walked
out of the fire, broken open by flame, walked out soft and raw and peeled as bark.

About the Author

Leah Claire Kaminski’s poems have appeared in Bennington ReviewMassachusetts ReviewPrairie SchoonerRhino, the Rumpus, and ZYZZYVA. Poetry Editor for the Dodge, Leah has three chapbooks published or forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press, Harbor Editions, and Milk and Cake Press.

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