Before I was Born

my parents read Mother Earth News,
sold their house in Seattle
to buy a 35 acre plot of forest
and swamp. They built a house
with a wood furnace, and planted
a vine maple in the courtyard
to cool the hall in summers.
Grandpa Hi water witched.
They put in a well. My pregnant
mother shingled the roof,
belly swelling with what would be me.

They brought me home,
buried my placenta under a ginkgo.
My mother had planted sweet peas
and pumpkins in the garden,
and apple and plum trees in the orchard.
My father spent Sundays falling alders
to burn for heat. My eyes were too yellow.
They kept me in a glass box,
a maxi pad taped over my eyes,
drove me into town each day,
had my heel pricked to draw blood.

Rachel Mehl has published poems in Alaska Quarterly Review, Portland Review, Pank, and Willow Springs, among other journals. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon and lives in Bellingham, WA.