with my mother. In a photograph,
she places one hand on my shoulder,
another on the small
of my back, keeping me
still on the horse’s saddle. I can’t be
older than three, which means I’m too young
for memory, but who needs memory
when you have a mother. I don’t
always remember that I have a mother
in another country, that in her language
the words for mother and horse sound the same.

Years after the picture, we quit Chinese class
during the second week because we keep forgetting
that the word ma can name the way every birth begins
with an animal. I say we and mean me
and my mother. The horse
I call my mother and the mother
I mispronounce into a horse I don’t remember
riding. But this story begins with my mother
and I. No, this is a story
about myself.