~ for Radha Marcum 

alive & alight with the elation & gladness of living
remind her
milk thistle is not milk
brain imaging scans of living dinosaurs are still a myth
September rain falls on the crying & the flying alike
fishes school & glitter like snowfall
steam rises
there is an up staircase in the flame

Remind her while she is young
          – but not too young please –
to handle herself with care
to eat ice cream on Sunday
to not step on a wind-up beetle
to not hold the weathervane in a high wind
lest she go Dorothy-to-Oz
or call down the lightning

Remind her that each seismic shift has its own quirks
that may take weeks to decipher
to not be resentful if bitten by fleas bedbugs mosquitos
but to pay more attention
to the passageways too small for a person
remind her how to know
that small rabbits are not stupid but are rightly afraid
that we all breathe & sigh breathe & sigh
& that we all fear what comes down from the mountain

Remind her to know the difference
between the youngest & the quietest
as they are not the same
remind her to not take a direct path home from the cemetery
lest the demons follow her there
to whistle in the dark but not past that graveyard & not indoors
lest the Chinese legend of bad luck & exploding stoves
be true

Remind her to open the black door in the morning
stir the ashes of pine curled into bracelets
manacles fetters shackles
drop them to dust

Remind her
then lie on the kitchen floor while the night comes
listen to her sing