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In a past life              I was not defined by his death.
…                                  I was not rerouted like a plane through
…                                  I was part of a “nuclear family,” the phrasing
                                     of which appears first in 1924 as “the nuclear
                                     family complex.”
…                                  I did not have a complex.
…                                  I smiled for the camera.
…                                  Love accumulated like debt—mindless, habit-
…                                  Similes were balanced equations.
…                                  I had my father’s face, not “you have your
                                     father’s face.”

In a past life              I am on the basketball court behind our
                                    when I hear his footsteps on the asphalt.
                                    (Does it count as a past life if it happened?)

“In a past life”          is not supposed to mean your life before tragedy
                                    but an existence altogether unrecognizable,
                                    which is maybe
                                    the same thing: my having been a fir tree.

In a past life              the stanza above is nonsensical.

In a past life              as a fir tree my identity was also pine.

In a past life              that broke off from this one as I watched
                                     a woman walk off of a plane before the doors
                                     were armed, I almost followed her.

In a past life              as that woman, as someone who refused
                                     to comply, as a passenger without baggage,
                                     without a story
                                     she answers to exclusively, no one would know

In a past life              the allure is not who we were but who we are