Kaya Lattimore: borderlines


i begin as water: a new island emerges
     from the sea. i am spit out by darkness

and born screaming. in one life,
     time is uncharted and fluid as sleep.

in this life, we border the years as we
     do countries decreed on a map.

but my body reared in blood is
     unaccustomed to borders – my

mother’s body once was my body,
     too, and the only earth i knew.

my parents name me, and then
     name me again. evidence of

existence marked on paper. in one
     life, i am born beneath the trees

and the whole earth is my body. in this
     life, trees burn and do not come back.

i am milk boiled to form a skin. i watch
     it break, and break, and seal itself shut.

i beg the sun to colour me. instead, i burn
     and my skin stains and pinks and peels.

in the shower, i wash off salt. i shed my
     hair, pull my remnants from the drain.

every month, i empty blood into the
     toilet and flush my body out to sea.

this is what becomes of me: the border-
     lines of water. i sink my feet into

sand and the tide comes up to meet me,
     makes the whole ocean my body

     and then unmakes me.


Kaya Lattimore is a Filipina-Australian writer and spoken word poet. As a mestiza and immigrant womxn, her writing obsessions include diaspora, family histories, racial identity, and language. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cicerone Journal, Not Very Quiet, Australian Multilingual Writing Project and Djed Press.

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