In Memory of the Blue Girl Sahar Khodayari
it is not a double-dog dare
to see this wide-eyed world anchored by
hat tricks between men in Iran
the bright blue branched wig and ochre overcoat cannot
shield your hushed hurry
you crisscross the arena’s entrance
but there’s a plot twist in permanent marker
guards with thick-bodied hands cancel your metaphors
you would rather burn than come to a full stop
your echo strikes the landscape
with a path that parallels hurt
In between the ZOOM meetings
and the children’s online classes,
she had a tiny feet of minutes
to skip out the porch door
and slip into the garden,
framed with seasoned teeth
of recao, ajíes, and yautía.
When will the prologue
with sweet squeals begin?
Somewhere, while her toes collide
with caked dirt as they search
for wordless holes
to spill the 114,215+ deaths
over orphaned ground.
She wants to discard the misery
that grows taller every week
and pinch the bill collectors
until they until become a quick end,
in no need of more explication.
She settles into her chair
like a curtain of topiaries
and builds a world of fiction,
where she will sleep soundly,
and seep into pure quiet.
It was supposed to be for just one hour. Mrs. Duncan
had somewhere to go and she needed someone to
watch the fresh-faced boy. Why did my mother volunteer?
We hardly knew them. Maybe a modest side-glance passing
by the stairs, but certainly there were no throaty hellos by
the mailbox. He’ll be no trouble at all, but I know when an
adult teaspoon-feeds lies. He broke my favorite toy and ate
the last red Skittle in a swing of minutes. Jack George. I
wanted to slow claw him like I do with my clementines, but
there would be too many ringletted questions. How about we
do something interesting? Let’s play dancer. Spin, pirouette,
kickball chain, jazz hands, pop and lock. Your body lifts like
stirred fireflies. Your shirt floats to flash a band of abdomen.
There’s a garden of red polka dots, some picked scarlet and
condensed into scars. Where did you get those? The moment
goes dry. A knock on the door. A small-eared farewell like
The Weight of Centering
Do not ask me why the tears unfold
like buttercups. Even though it has
been nine years since we buried you,
I still feel the high-rise curb of wet-eyed
promises: that you did not teach me
how to plant hollyhocks or gulp spilled
air on the pillion. Instead, you taught me
how to lynchpin wisterias and drop bubbles
on my tongue. But, it was you that tucked
photos by the front door like loose hairs to
remind me that every place has an exit. It was
you that gripped me vertical and said know
your self-portrait. So do not ask me about
the red stippling of grief. It’s like asking why
gray leaves fall without a promise, why
the moon has thumbprints of dark matter.
It’s because butterflies do not fly in a straight
line. It’s because blood oranges sprout pruned
skin. It’s because tectonic plates force everything
to shift. It’s because, it’s because, it’s just because.
Dorsía Smith Silva is a Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Her poetry has been published in several journals and magazines in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, including Portland Review, Mom Egg Review, Stoneboat, Apple Valley Review, Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture & Social Justice, Moko Magazine, and elsewhere. She is also the editor of Latina/Chicana Mothering and the co-editor of six books. She is currently completing her first poetry book.