Sarah Estes

Phylogeny
by Sarah Estes

Truck fall down my toddler says
dropping a truck to the floor

lips curling into a smile

as his small body swells with delight.
Surprised as gravity asserts itself
for the sixth time in as many minutes.

This, his first and only narrative–
gargantuan placeholder for the orbit
where conversation, dreams, invention
will one–day lie upends me.

I hover over him like an anthropologist
excavating the bones of first light–
the joy, the sheer delight, the unrelenting assertion
and repetition of a first prosaic thought,

truck fall down.

To watch the evolution of form—
the thing in itself—filling his small body,
standing there ribald and naked
between the two of us.

The voice sonorous, even other worldly
pressing out from the deep wordless silence
of infancy. The guttoral, underdeveloped yelps
and yawps of primordial noise, away from
the propriety of consonants, the refinement
of properly shaped syllables.

Like god talking to us in stutters and signs.
The unblinking eye of a mother whale

silent beneath the bow of a ship,

her calf surfacing nearby, watching us

on break from the deep.

And inside me another one swims
already, twitching his reptilian tail
in the laboratory I have become.
 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.

Sarah EstesSarah Estes is the winner of the 2014 Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Christian Science Monitor, Agni, Cimarron, Crab Orchard Review, Field, New Orleans Review, Southern Review and elsewhere. She obtained an MFA from the University of Virginia as a Hoynes Fellow, and a master’s in religion and culture from Harvard.

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