Rena J. Mosteirin

Milkweed Coat

Tonight when you are ripped open
down to the very seed,
when you feel that hunger, know:
you are not what you pack up now for next year,
you will not be put up on the shelf in jars.

Roadside we wait for the ambulance
to siren the night in two.
Take my hand and I will sing.
Tonight when faceless men
work on your body under a bright light,

they will wear masks
so as not to mislead you
with their own, ordinary faces.
It's ok to open your eyes
during the surgery and see.

It's ok to tell yourself
that you are seeing the face of God.
This is why the drugs they pump
with their ancient opioid lace
will be the taste of salvation—

and every time you go to the street
for a fix, it will be as a pilgrim. Baby,
you will die a junkie, someday,
but not tonight. And you will be reborn
almost immediately, as an orange flicker—

there it is now, I can see you—a monarch
butterfly. Black velvet and pollen and luck.
Until the ambulance gets here,
I will break open milkweed pods for us.
Let's pretend this one is a hat.

Here is your milkweed coat.
You will return each year to this roadside
without knowing why, you will seek the site
where you were saved. The cotton
texture, the taste, the hour I first believed.