Bloom by Katie Harrigan

She grew up in the tall building
at the end of the street,
her lungs filled with paper and lantern light
and oil paint and stars,
surrounded by the perfect
messiness of living
in a family.

She hung wild
from the ladder that skimmed
along crammed shelves,
dusty-sweet books
wrapped in leather
and linen
until she could barely
keep her arm latched
around the stack.

She chased her brothers
and sisters across
creaking floorboards
and cobblestoned streets,
and sat breathless as the oldest
of them taught her
to read maps of the sky,
to navigate it with her eyes
like a tiny villager doing errands
on the streets of the stars.

And on summer nights,
until the last of the lanterns had been breathed out,
she would inch her torso
as far over the house's threshold
as she dared,
arranging fallen cherry blossom petals
into words and pictures
on the cool ridges of the street,
whispering her own thick pink constellations
into a stone-gray sky.