Dora Guo

Mother, quiet and pregnant with fear,
raised a daughter with no tongue.
I remember in our old house the door
opened outward to the grass, freshly cut,
a fleeting playground for any small child
to call kingdom, to dig out any poor worm.

My worst secret is that I used to cleave worms
in half with plastic spoons. Really, I fear
that one day no boy would want to tongue
me because of this fact, that the doors
of companionship would shut and cut
me off from being un-lonely, like a child

reminded that their fear of the dark is only child-
ish. This keeps me restless. I wade, I worm
my way out of this deep and fearless
hole under which I’ve buried my tongue.
Inside of me, my worries open like doors,
or maybe an orchid, and bloom before they’re cut

and uprooted. I think I’d like to take a shortcut
that would lead me back toward childhood,
something more demure, domesticity before worms
eat me back into dirt. A funny, fickle thing, fear
roots in my stomach and doesn’t vanish, slides its tongue
across my open mouth — a silent, gaping door.

I know nothing of nurture. At the station door,
once, I watched a man with one arm cut
clean off raise his grime-covered hand toward a child,
demanding more change as the boy wormed
his way out the crowd, and I did not fear
the black and pink of the man’s languid tongue.

All night I stay up thinking about the tongue
flaps on my shoes, how they bend, as if little doors,
in the rain. If this were a movie, we’d always cut
to me never wanting or thinking of a child.
Truthfully, most days I feel obviously worm-
like. I want to know what it’s like not to fear

my tongue saying another name, to not fear
plant cuttings, how they sprout, seedless, at front doors,
like a worm regrowing, cut by a careless child.