Childhood As Palimpsest

There are traces of you as a child each time I 

Watch you try on new clothes – 

How you bow your legs, stick your butt out, curl

Your shoulders

To look like you may have looked at 9 when your mother

Exhaled hard, told you to stand up straight to see

If those pants really fit.

And then tugged at your waistband, to which you

Would waggle forward and back. 

Uncooperative as you would be at 10, 11, 12, 

13, 14


Before you became unspeakable.


You are not quite

Worn to that shock blonde boy so often

When you run your fingers wrong

Across the shingles of our house to bring it gently

Down to foundation, before

Carefully constructing the roof back over

everything, how your lips protrude


As if you hadn’t grown into them at all

in 1991 or 1992 during your first year

Away from home. 


That childhood is still so curious

Of what might be there

Calling from the edge of the forest

Asking to be raised.

Althea Seloover, 2020