I stand tall under the operating room lighting
of my father’s kitchen. Laid out as I am with
skin sterilized and cut back,
nerves and organs exposed, I tell him
I am bi.
I can smell our dinner beginning to burn.
He stands at the stove with his back to me and tells me
it will pass.
Do mountains come to pass?
I understand mountains.
Although their spines are strong,
they have been molded, smoothed;
caressed as they are by water
for millions of years.
Their worn-in bodies become homes
for so many animals, plants, trees.
I read once about a kind of pinecone that will
only grow after it has been
set on fire
Serotinous, they are called.
High in the same mountains, their parent trees
wait for wildfires to sacrifice themselves
for their seedlings.
I stand tall at your side, finally
playing myself in this grand opera.
Say I’m no longer acting.
Say the stage is on fire and I can feel
the wild heat of it,
can hear its lyric burning,
but I do not shy away like a frightened animal;
Instead, I take your hand and sing along
while the flames finally find me.
Rachel Egly is a bi poet, engineer, and ecologist in love with all things water. Her work has previously appeared in Words Dance and Ghost City Review and is forthcoming in Vagabond City. She currently lives in Chicago with her partner and cat, where she catches crayfish, naps as much as possible, and spends most of her money on good food.