23: memory, a sonnet

My aunt who sat when my brother and I
were just little tied our fingers to big helium balloons

and called up, “Tell your mother about the mountain lions.”
I remember closing my eyes.  I told my mother: “My eyes hurt

from the sun.”  She asked what I’d been doing to so hurt.
I said, “Shutting my eyes against the sun.  Nearer to it’s hotter.”

My aunt put us in big wicker baskets and the water outside
suspended us.  She pushed our craft in the direction of the Falls.

I remember her muffled words: “Tell your mother
how light the body is freefalling onto the sharper stones.”

I did as she asked.  And my mother said she and her sister
once swallowed half each an alligator: Grandmother’s dare.

My mother said “I knew something was fast, though, when my
sister said ‘The eyes were good’ and I said ‘But I had the head.'”

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