Your first knowledge, the nooks and crannies

of your parents’ bodies: crooks of their arms,

scent of their necks, your head resting

between their breasts and collarbones.


Your first loves, the small, soft things—

feathers, young animals, blushing puffs of bloom

from the mimosa tree. Start to collect

the harder things: stones, sticks, shells—

pockets and pails of them. Treasures.


Become graceful.  Enter the water,

begin to swim.  Dance unashamed, arms wide.

Legs pump the creaking swing,

arc against the sky.


Learn to pay your respects:  climb trees,

discover, but do not touch, birds’ nests. 

Study the contents of the tidal pool—

sand dollar, sea olive, translucent crab. 

Smell the poppy; do not pick it.

Resolve to break nothing.


Kathleen Brewin Lewis is an Atlanta writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Heron Tree, STILL: The Journal, San Pedro River Review, James Dickey Review and Southern Humanities Review.  Her chapbook, Fluent in Rivers, was just published by FutureCycle Press.  A graduate of Wake Forest University, she has an MA in Professional Writing and is the senior editor of Flycatcher.