Brittany Ericksen

Firstborn

But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of

all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.

—Deut. 21:15–17

 

This is my blanket, my birthright:
a modest inheritance
divided among siblings.
We collect memories like seashells,
we make our homes in tide pools
and watch tiny creatures pool at our feet
in silence. We will keep our secrets.

When will you learn? Your past is a gift
you cannot exchange.
I am my father’s oldest child.
You can tell by our identical scars.

This is the blanket I share with my siblings.
It covers us, precariously.
We spend our lives trying to hold together
our legacy of scraps.
What do I have to give you?
I want you to have pristine sheets, immaculate.
I want to welcome you into my arms with perfection,
not my patchwork collection quilted with question marks,
the loose threads and ragged edges,
the inherent dissymmetry in its very fibers.
All these fragments,
this is what I own.

What will you inherit?
Your smile, a certain laugh, those unusual mannerisms—
The things that signal where we’re from.
All those qualities I see in others, I envy,
that certain closeness, so thick you can wrap it around yourself.
It will keep you dry.

There are the things you inherit and the things you pass on.
I will build my estate from saltwater and shells.
You will have a room there, above the ocean
and we will watch the waves swallow up the shore.

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