This is how it happened: My mother
looking back at the city of her leaving,
city of her birth. You can run out of a burning house
and still turn back to see your favorite birch tree
one last time. This is why I was raised by a pile
of little memories, learned early to kneel down
near the lingering of something I could not replace,
no matter how many mountains built in my back,
how many forests in my palms. This story holds
happiness, but I’m not sure on which side.
This happened, but I can’t remember when.
I can’t know where she looked back from; if she saw the city
in a plane’s window, if she found it folded in my eye.