by Jacqueline Balderrama
Featured Art by Courtney Bennett
the migratory patterns of sheartail and warbler continue back and forth
and on foot—the grey wolf,
Now paper, now papel—we learn to listen in different ways,
at night, hear the floor vents empty their chamber of words,
and again, they ask for the source of me
as if water could stop
Now the agents dress us in the terms of their casting calls—
anonymous beneath the sombrero, or fiery latina, or gardener, or alien, or drug lord.
Now Maria Montez, Katy Jurado, Rita Hayworth speak back to the funny mirror,
which reflects them only as cut tulips.
And my mother shakes her head for the childhood dog the neighbors took in
then abandoned in the desert.
Now the wildfires on the San Bernardino Mountains
when families at night set out lawn chairs to watch the flames.
And a man on the news electrifies his fences and shows the camera large photos
of bodies he’s found beneath his trees.
Now a prayer to Mother Cabrini, patron saint of immigrants.
Now the radio is breathless . . .
The television like an escape portal streams color through undraped windows,
but inside we are still here
fumbling to turn on the light or floating down in our chairs,
wishing the room to unleash its plum, its marigold, the blue of our jeans, the white walls
covered with frames, wishing too that everyone had been there with us.
Now we separate monstrous shadows from the broomsticks, the coils of rope, the strangers,
assuring ourselves that somehow we can still have good days.
Somewhere prickly poppies are blooming and want to.
Jacqueline Balderrama lives and teaches in Salt Lake City where she is a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Utah. Her work has appeared in Blackbird, Poet Lore, and Anomaly among others. She also has a chapbook forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. For more, visit: jacquelinebalderrama.com.