Runaway Child by Ada Limón
The ocean was two things once, in two places, north it was the high
icy waves of Bodega Bay, Dillon, and Limantour, and south it was the blue ease
of Oceanside and Encinitas, umbrellas in a sleepy breeze.
It took me years to realize those two blues were the same ocean.
I thought they must be separate. Must be cleaved in the center by a fault line.
On a call just now with my grandmother she mentions how all the flowers
I've sent are from my garden, so I let her believe it. Sweet lies of the mind.
She says she's surprised I like to grow things, didn't think
I was that kind of girl, she always thought I was a runaway child.
She flicks her hand away, to show me her hand becoming a bird, swerving
until it is a white gull in the wind. She repeats: a runaway child.
Mercy is not frozen in time, but flits about frantically, unsure where to land.
As children, they'd bring us to the ocean, divorce distraction and summer,
we'd drift with the tide southward until we'd almost lose sight of them,
waving dramatically for our return, shouting until we came back to the shore.
Once, when she was watching us, I tried to run away, four or five years old,
and when I got to the end of the driveway, she didn't try to stop me. Even shut the door.
And so I came back. She knew what it was to be unloved, abandoned by her mother,
riding her bike by her father's house with his other children, late afternoons,
before her grandmother would call her home for supper. Some days, I think
she would have let me leave, some days I think of her shaking on the shore.
Now, she thinks all the flowers I've sent are from my garden. Grown
from seeds and tended. She gets a kick out of it, this runaway child
so overly loved, she could dare to drift away from it all.