Flung away
by family ties come loose,
she migrated east
with her tender seedlings.
Thirteen winters on
she burned the chip
on her shoulder
to stay warm.

That spring, lighter now,
the seedlings having grown
and withered, her spine curving
like a piece of driftwood,
she returned the way she had come,
whipping west, past tattered towns,
the linguistic remnants of past peoples —
Onandaga, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda —
preserved in hammered metal,
grown rusty around the edges.

When she reached her city,
which had never stopped being her city,
she sailed down the Shoreway,
passing through EKG’s of light
reflecting off the arches
of bridges that sustained the past
and the future.