For Tyshani, in the hopes that she can forgive me for writing it:
As sure as you know that you love her
with all the wild strength of a runaway train
despite never having lived with her outside of your body,
you must also know she loves you,
that the not knowing you doesn't matter.
When she plays make believe, it's your voice
she speaks in, the tones of your voice
a soaring tune she wakes up humming, never really
caring why. When she was given the doll that she knew,
sure and immediate, would always
be her favorite, she instantly gave it
your name, or perhaps some variant,
Tiffany, Bethany, the exactness
of the consonants muddled during the swim
to her tongue from the depths of her dreams.
When her adoptive parents ask how she conjured up
such a name, she shifts her weight from foot to foot,
anxious and darling, scratches the exact same place
on her body where you have the tattoo on yours and says,
iono, i think i dreamed it; in the dream
a pearl-covered mermaid brought me the name,
carried in a basket hand-woven
of love songs and tears.