I was far away from home and on my way to see our mother’s reincarnated soul

ushered into the body of a newly born three-legged girl

living somewhere in the sugarcane fields.

When I tell that story,

sometimes I mention that our mother didn’t know anyone who didn’t like the taste of beef,

that for years she had us living in a house that flooded in hurricane season.

And although our eldest brother was going blind from cataracts,

he caught fish in the living room with palm leaves.

He was the kindest one of us all.

He’d feed sugar water to the moths on the window

and say, “Evening is upon us like the mountains.”

We had no inherited memories.

We were nothing like our mother,

who remembered all her lives,

like the one where her lungs burst out of their scars into tree roots

crawled up to touch the ceiling,

or the ancient mollusk that she once was,

traveling through the world’s shallow oceans

for more than two hundred million years,

her fossilized shells turning up all over the world.