Start at the Beginning Angela Sucich I. I say to him, when we have our child, we’ll tell her how she came to be, start at the beginning with stories that sound like fairy tales. Like: your father had a vision of you beside a river in Costa Rica. And: years later, I glimpsed your tiny face in a cup of water, drawn from a silver bowl. And: in a dream, your abuela saw little legs dangling from my folded arms and said to herself, that’s a baby. II. I say to him, when we see our little girl, we’ll tell her you kept trying to be born. Tell her how her spirit wouldn’t leave me, hovered like a bee in the grass, bending cowslips, sipping life in every flower; how I looked for her in the sting of needles, in fertile bruises that blued my belly skin, appeared like forget-me-nots in the garden, the ones that always fade by fall; and how, when at last we found her hidden inside a rounding hill, we couldn’t believe it was the same belly. III. I say to him, for three moons more I’ll keep this castle, even with a plague outside and other souls under siege, guarding their own six feet of air. I ask him, what child chooses to be born now? Three months from now? She has, he says, and then: maybe she’s come to save it. He means the world, I think. I feel her flex inside, straining the castle walls, a sprout pushing through its seed coat, pushing organs up to lungs. I breathe from a tiny place, give in to magical thinking, to the feeling she’s closer to the story than we are.
He Sings to Our Daughter Angela Sucich I used to tell people the Spanish words I know are curse words. The only time he still speaks it is watching fútbol. And they would laugh. It’s not true anymore. These days he’s singing medicine songs to our little girl in his native tongue, covers mostly but not all because he says some healing starts with you. His family asks if I’m going to learn it. and I want to for her, for him. When he plays guitar I can see the boy who’s split in two, plucking minor notes for the words lost when he lost his home, and the silence he still goes to, until the chorus sweeps in, memory cue to come back together. Then he’s twice the man strumming, singing despierta el alma de mi canción, the wound as tender as his voice, and I am singing now, too, and I am writing down these words for him, for her.
Angela Sucich holds an M.A. in Literature from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of Washington. She’s published one nonfiction book on the history of a Seattle trade union (Seattle Publishing). Her poetry has recently appeared in The Ekphrastic Review and Nimrod International Journal, and is forthcoming in Cave Wall. She was honorably mentioned for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry in 2021.
”Start at the Beginning” was originally published in Nimrod International Journal (Volume 64, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2021).