T. De Los Reyes

Someday I Want to Have the Courage of Old People Who Ask Strangers Countless Questions

Their mouths form into an O / and I know they are about to birth /
a universe of questions / I stand in line waiting for my turn / and it
feels like I have been in line / all my life / all my hours spent /
listening to other people find their way / out of the dark / and into
their astonishment / here where they are holding / Turkish bread
fresh from the oven / where they learned about the taste / without
tasting / where they understood for the first time / that dates are
both time and fruit / I am saying my knees / are not as forgiving /
but I stand where I am / because I am meant to witness / how
wonder makes its way into the world / and I suppose it’s not the
questions / but the unabashed gesture / of asking what something
is called / of calling forth a name for a thing / of no longer being
afraid / to look the fool / listen I can’t go back / to being eight and
peeling / the skin off my lips / unaware blood comes / after blood
/ I can’t unknow / what I know / and pretend I won’t get hurt
again / but I can count the change slowly / while asking and what
about this one / and this one / and can you tell me / again, my dear
/ how to get home from here / yes / I am saying / when all that is
left is this body / I can still lean into wonder / I can forgive myself

 

T. De Los Reyes is a Filipino poet and author of the chapbooks, And Yet Held (Bull City Press) and Woeman (Hawai’i Review). Her poems have previously appeared or are forthcoming in RHINO, Narrative, Hunger Mountain, Birdcoat Quarterly, Pleiades, among others. She is the designer of Nowruz Journal and a poetry reader for Split Lip Magazine. She lives and writes in Manila, Philippines. Find more at tdelosreyes.com.

 

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Shlagha Borah

Umami

Silver, gleaming – the dead river fish in my father’s hands. He holds it up like a
trophy for the photograph. He adjusts its head on the bothi, gently scraping the
scales off its back. Oil sizzles in the kitchen, mortar and pestle brimming with the
paste of mustard seeds. I inherited the staleness of desire from him. In America, I
cut open the pack of refrigerated tilapia, season it with ginger garlic paste. This is
muscle memory – to touch what is raw and open. I marinate it in yogurt, sprinkle
paprika all over its moist body. The wetness of fish alive in the tip of my fingers.
The first time I picked out a fish bone, it pricked my forefinger. The blood mixed
with the rice and my father joked how it enhanced the taste of the fish curry. We
keep fish bones in a glass jar. My father’s dying wish is to eat Sitol fish – a rare
delicacy in our Rohu-Bhokua household. To separate the bones one by one, like
strands of hair parted for a French braid. What doesn’t have a name doesn’t exist.
My father slices its throat. The fish flaps its tail.                        

 

Shlagha Borah (she/her) is from Assam, India. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Salamander, Nashville Review, Florida Review, EcoTheo Review, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is an Editorial Assistant at The Offing. She has received support for her work from Brooklyn Poets, Sundress Academy for the Arts, and The Hambidge Center. She is the co-founder of Pink Freud, a student-led collective working towards making mental health accessible in India. Instagram: @shlaghab. Twitter: @shlaghaborah.

 

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Sara Hammami

LITANY OF I MISS YOU’S

i miss you the way polaris parkway mall has a grand piano at the base of the escalator in the pink carpet pink wall department store. when it was empty, papi would play the three keys to the pink panther theme song. i miss you the way i knew how to do it perfectly, once upon a time, i miss you the way i miss pressing my tongue to teeth until a faint impression makes a jangle out soft chord percussion. i miss you the way i miss all the fireflies once they spray pesticide. one night i woke up to a dark so vast not even the moon could touch me. i miss you the way i miss the mall. arm in arm and ankle aching. for the last year, i’ve only eaten unripe fruit. i miss you the way i miss summertime wildberries. i miss the soft bite of peach. the sunlight on the peel of mango. i kiss my last box of strawberries into the yard and hope they come back to me wanting. i do miss wanting. i miss holding my breath. i miss turning my lungs inside out. i miss myself into frown lines. i miss you into ribbed over xylophone. when i unbox the house, i leave all last impressions of you up. is this a selfish poem? this is a selfish poet. i miss the long line. i miss the decanter of crystal and tropical storm. i miss you and all the pastel houses on the shore. with hurricane season coming, i miss clear skies. i miss the impression of wood. i shred into tissue-vein paper. i paper-mache a mirror. i miss the reflection. i miss taking the outerbelt home. i miss the abyss of forest. i miss the time before i knew the outerbelt was called the outerbelt. i miss keeping my eyes closed. i miss enjoying my voice. i miss pulling into the space next to the space by lettuce lake park. i miss looking. i do miss looking. i’m sure it had a name, once. i miss remembering our names vividly. i miss us into an oblivion. i miss you into a new language. we break/shift into a new mode of conversation. i miss you like i miss the landline.   i do miss the landline.   i always loved everyone at the end.       
briefly,                     i reconstruct my whole life.

iram of the pillars

ENTER:

              LIMINAL SPACE:                                     we all become
                                                                                                other. sudden. everything i do,
                                                                                 we did.  before.                                 clay tap these pillars
                                                                                                              up there
                                                                                                                              on that slant.

ENTER:

                SINKHOLE:                                                       

                                                                                                                                                             I WOKE UP IN
                                                AGONIZING ANHELO.
                                                              I SAW,
                                                                                                         THE TWO OF US
                                                                                             A FAR OFF PLACE
                                                                                                          A HOST

              LIMINAL SPACE:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of every desire,
                                                                            the most tangible
                                                                                                            that i whisper, then dissolve    
                                                                                                                                                                           y además,
                                                                                                                                                          lo coloqué en encounter
                                                                                                                          chance & entangled
                                                                                                                                                                      sweating y lo
                                                                                                                                                         prometo
              SINKHOLE:

                                                                            YOU’LL FIND ME HERE AGAIN.
                                                                                         CAVERN CRACK MY JAW
                                                                                                                    REMOVE MY RIGHT HIP
                                                                                                       IN THE CURVES OF COCCYX A CITY IS
                                                                                                                                               HOME,
                                                                                                                                                             A DNA PRINT
                                                                                                                                               A DUST DANCE

                                                                                                                                               OH, WE WERE HERE ONCE,
                                                                                                                                  ONCE,
                                                                                                                                               ONCE,
              LIMINAL SPACE:

                            HERE IS THE TRUTH — THE STORY LONG SUBMERGED +
                                          UNDISCOVERED — NO — ERASED — WE REVELED
                            IN SOFT UNDERBELLY — CITY SUNK LIKE AN ANCHOR THROUGH
                                          DIM LIT SUN — FINGERS ENGULFED DEEP IN FLESH
                            FLOOD — SMELLING OF SWEAT + SOAP —
                                          UNDER EONS OF SAND I UNCOVER A WATER
                                                        BREATHING — LIFE — UNHOLY — I COWER — BURY
                                          THE GLASS SHARDS — WHEN THE WORLD FLIPS
                            SOMEONE TURNS MY REFLECTION INTO JEWELRY —
                                          SOFTENED — ENMESHED — IN LOVE — PALATABLE
                            SCORCHED DAYS GONE, GONE, GONE! UNIFORM, FINALLY!
                                                                                    FINALLY! FINALLY! FINALLY!

 

sara h. hammami (she/her) is fragmented between language(s) & is always thinking & dreaming of life underwater. she has poems living with DEAR Poetry Journal and Grist.

 

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