We are not surprised to find each other,
though our families are amazed.
The odds were so slender.
You, a teenage mother from the sixties.
Me, the newborn she gave away.
We tell each other it was time.
Or maybe luck, or fate, sent us both
to a fledgling registry on the web
before most people were online.
I don’t discount God, or grace.
I just don’t say so out loud.
I’m not sure what you believe.
We read each other’s biographies
piecemeal through email,
send pictures in fat envelopes.
Over the phone when we speak,
your voice evokes
a fast-talking Lauren Bacall.
I laugh at your jokes. I think
I hear you trying to laugh at mine.
One hundred and eighty days later,
when we meet in flesh and shared blood,
you’re not exactly a mirror. No,
it’s like looking at a glass door
when it’s dark beyond, and the sun
is shining full-force on your back.
Neither of us has ever seen
so close a likeness before.
We smile often, glance at each other slyly,
like new lovers, just to spot that reflection.
It’s the very same smile, most agree.
The bridge of the nose.
Earlobes. Eyes. Knees.
Pieces of anatomy.
I subtract what doesn’t look like you
and assume a father.
The tabs and blanks of a jigsaw puzzle
I’d never cared about finishing
start to come together like a kiss.
Later, as we sit in a Jeep at dusk,
my three-year-old requests a song.
(One quarter of her comes from you.)
We duet “Hush Little Baby” clear through
without breaking. And this, at last,
is what breaks me – this bonus coincidence:
strangers singing together to a child
as she nods off to sleep, the odds we beat
when we both know all the words.
“The language itself…is like some bewitchment or seduction from the past, drifting across the country down the centuries.” -Jan Morris, Wales: the First Place
And once you have seen an adit, how can you not enter?
I myself am one foot in it, summoned by the language
that pulls at my body like a bed.
There is always a black bird in the old songs
carrying a message to the distant beloved. There is the moon,
and a stone cottage, and always, there is the sea.
There’s the tree underneath which a lover will
have his grave. Maybe he’ll have a harp or horse,
or maybe just the sea, the moon, the bird.
The adit is mine-mouth, the dark hole
in the hillside, within which sleeps a king
who will awaken blessed or mad.
I’m not looking for the king. The sea is behind me.
The black birds won’t fly into the darkness
and my candle is tallow for want of wax.
But the language is upon my tongue,
it fills my ears, and will not be denied.
I go. I go. O ran y groth. As to the womb I go.
Rebecca Patrascu’s work has appeared in publications including The Racket Journal, Pidgeonholes, Bracken Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, and Valparaiso Review. She has an MFA from Pacific University and is the author of the chapbook Before Noon (Finishing Line Press). She lives in northern California, works at the public library, and catches honeybee swarms in the spring.