Take Hold

by Zainab Ismail

Palmfuls of chromosomes, the possibility of choices.

My hands can help and harm in a sea of choices.


Some chromosomes look like sycamores up close,

melting off blue-bellied trees.

Exclamation marks for many voices

branching bottomless to broadcast a plea.


Spectral pirouettes, speckled silhouettes, 

burning butterflies in my body,

teardrops, glaciers, empty and filled spaces.

I feel at sea,

drifting apart from every ponderous statistic,

every metamorphosis,

the optic lens seeing a thinning filigree,


observing heartache from a distance. 

Though footsteps root my soles downward to home, 

my soul collapses 

under reefs of little prayers,

sometimes my solitary role

of weightless grief, fragility,


seeking a more

compassionate connection to the planet,

learning from the way we ran it,

anchored to it as trustees —

so diagrammatic,

sycamores in our hands, blessed with the capability

to take hold of our delicate destiny.