When I came alive in the crosshairs

of my parents' lovemaking, an egg and sperm 

comingling one June evening in 1962, 

prisoners escaped from Alcatraz island.

Into their beds they put decoy heads

made of soap, toilet paper, and real hair,

so the guards wouldn't notice they'd gone. 

The first grains of my spine's island chain

uncoiled from the deep, and the prisoners 

crawled through the ventilation shaft 

and onto the roof, then down and through 

the scotch broom and ice plant to the rubber raft 

they'd stashed at the shore; they took turns 

inflating, huffing and puffing, before they 

disappeared inside the waves' cold rooms 

in the San Francisco Bay. Months later, 

my father bent to speak to me through 

the stretched skin of my mother's belly. 

He jingled the vodka and ice in his glass.

I hunched beneath the rafters of my mother's ribs

while a siren swelled in the distance, 

then more sirens, a flock swirling and calling. 




Places I've Been

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