I hold my birth mother’s name like a string of pearls between my gum and my molars. I hold it on the right side of my mouth, where my teeth are strongest, where my smile rests, and I keep it hidden. It is my most valued possession, the only proof beyond my skin that I come from someone.
At night, I use my tongue to free her name from the rounded flesh that cups my teeth. I hold it in the warm cave of my mouth, and when I am sure no one else is awake, I speak it: “________ ____ ______ _____.”