Girl as Tautology

Jessica Hincapie

Girl as Tautology

When I need my mother most
I climb inside my mouth 

turn left at my incisor teeth
turn right at the ghosts of both
my grandfathers 

and find her dancing    under
the chandelier of my uvula.

She greets me by wrapping
a human braid around both
my hands, the way her mother
would the rosary. The severed 

braid is hers from when she
was a girl.        Kept 

for years in a box beneath her bed.
Still intact. Tied off at each
end      in orange elastics. 

Once I am bound
she starts clucking to me
in tongues        every reason
for my full moon fevers, 

the Marrakesh sand pooling
in my sneakers. She speaks
of her old home in Morocco. 

“I once walked by Burroughs
buying ten grams of hash
back when the Petit Socco
still catered to hopheads.” 

I want to believe her
but this woman is        and is not         

my mother. I want to believe her
when she says there is a place
where the women of our world
go to be Banshees. 

She conjures them by name.
Maruja, Mercedes, Judit
Rosario, Catalina, Lourdes

She will leave
with them        soon,
and I beg her to take me. 

Take me to where
I too can be unburdened. 

Instead, she leads me toward
the tunnel of my throat. Dares me
to peek down   to the black 

void of my belly. She pulls
a curved scimitar from my
stomach      a Moroccan Nimcha, 

forged using the blades
of older swords, and makes quick
work of cutting 

off the foot long braid
dangling down my own back,
before softly sliding the Nimcha 

into my gut, letting it jut
out of me like a cathedral’s spire. 

Now in my body there is a chalk
outline of another body, but
Mother tells me not to worry
that      this
is what getting older feels like.