Evie Shockley


wedged in the top branches, rain still sighing

to earth as a dissolute sky dissolves,

a mozambican woman turns mother,

her water breaking loose to pool with the flood

licking the trunk below. a country-sized

puddle calls forth the child whose name, the mother

vowed, would not be drowned, no matter how

high she had to climb. my mother’s water

washed her bare yellow bathroom tile many

years ago, a diluvial warning

of my struggle to arrive. we fought to

get me out, and have been tugging at each

other ever since, tethered by a cord

that simply thickens when it’s cut. we

descended then, thirsting, churning, not into

the waters that hound the mozambican

mother, baying her and her baby in

the tree, but into that enduring ocean

in which — as mother, daughter, or both — a

woman’s only choices are to drink or swim.