I like the word avatar;
it’s spelled how it sounds

and its politics are in meaning
and the power of naming.

The internet is busy stripping avatar
of its gods, embodiments, and spirits:

power flattened into a screen.
But down in my garden

of vocabulary
this mistranslation fertilizes,

fleshes the word’s story beyond
incarnations in earthly forms.

When I learn the new usage,
I head to the Hinduism patch;

trim and divide avatar
to stimulate leaf growth

and plant my cuttings
in the computing corner,

to propagate avatar there;
vivid varietals of meaning

grow doubly full
of culture and time.

Sarah Shapiro was born in Chicago and lives in Somerville, MA. She is a poetry MFA candidate at UMass Boston. Her academic career was not a guarantee, as she grew up with learning (dys)abilities and did not begin to read until the age of eight. Her poems explore the gap between those who struggle to read and those who read with ease.