In this porcelain tub you play,
inheritor of the blood and small bones,
the black silk hair of a man and woman
far away, who hang in our minds
like gauzy portraits or ghosts.
I wash you in warm water,
as a mother does, your open face
tilted to the light. You tell me
in your piping voice
about your family in China
as though you’d known them longer than moments.
Birthmother is a good cook, you say,
and your sisters wait for you there in the village.
You scoop water as you speak, try to hold it,
but it slips through your hands,
running between small fingers
pressed tightly together to staunch the flow.
You stand then, hold my face,
one wet hand on each cheek, tell me
your birthmother’s eyes are brown like yours,
and mine are blue; I am helpless
between your hands,
silently chanting daughter daughter daughter
while a shapeliness of light spreads
on the water, then falls still