The first time I saw your father,
I stared back into the pool at your reflection
while he waded through,
the water moving in gentle circles away from us.

The first time, I thought it was the Nile
we’d dipped our heads into,
the water thick with primordial cells,
parthenogenesis producing near
identical beings: his skin, your chin,
the way your lips pull back to reveal teeth,
the slope of his nose.

I thought the water was playing tricks with the light,
obscuring the line at the horizon,
a ribbon of black and white DNA
shimmering like schools of fish.

I thought perhaps I’d confused which side
of the reflection you – or he – was on,
my heart sealed up in a tank instead,
with two inches of water and a ton of salt,
hallucinating in an imaginary womb,
looking for you – I’m sure of that:
I was looking for you –

his co-joined daughter,
my hermaphroditic lover.

I dreamt I made love to your father,
straddling his hips, taking the soft flesh
of his waist in my hands and kneading it
between my fingers until it came loose.

I make love to you,
our bodies red as newborns, loud and fierce,
two amphibian women choosing to breathe,
splashing the water as madly as an ancient god
might have at our emergence.

Achy Obejas is the author of The Tower of the Antilles, which was a PEN/Faulkner finalist, and several other books of fiction. Her first full book of poetry, Boomerang, will be published by Beacon Press in a bilingual edition in 2021. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area and successfully nominated Edwidge Danticat for the 2018 Neustadt Prize.