Before procedural memory, before
the episodic set us in a narrative of
linear time, old as sensation it comes:
a memory, if we can call it that,

of being held. I call it, “inside-outside,” a dual
feeling of cool air on the face, in the nose,
and simultaneously the heat of being
wrapped in a body, a blanket, an arm.

It’s more emotional tenor than temperature,
a little shelter while set firmly in the world.
Forgive me the illusion when I say, I remember.
In that rush of onomatopoeia, I remember

on the river bank my grandmother
held my new body near and high
above the water, let that language move
through me as her hips dipped. Movement too,

is a lexicon, an ancient way of speaking.
The South Fork of the Payette
undulated through the land as one clear throat,
body passage of food and voice.

The ancestor came to me in that stagnant year
when fractured time curled in on itself,
latches on all the doors busted, the trail
disappearing into leaf litter and mist.

In my dream, she puts my body back
where the sound of river flows,
gift of somatic imprint, a rough
translation of what Spirit does:

Wielding the erotic, that yearning energy
of enlivenment, we are brought back to life
just as we came, wet and glistening, all want
and desire, needing touch and tit in equal measure.

Remember your aliveness, she says, 
the way you were blown through 
with those first gasps of air, the lungs
opening, the heart valve closing, 

the howl you made,
which startled you, being 
a creature who could make 
a sound like that. 

We loop like this, lace of memory
sewn into sinew and soil,
patterning us as much with touch
and tone as with the unforgiving mind.