Cover Art: Joseph Cornell, "The Dandelion Tree," 1967, Collage w/ wood, glass, and photostat with dye, SFMOMA.
I'll never know how tall
momma was supposed to be;
scoliosis curled her to the left
as a teen-aged question mark.
Pinion of two steel bars
and six-month body cast stint
saved her the glory of Quasimodo.
She'd say (as goad) Six months
cast and still I danced.
At five five, I towered her five none;
in stages that contradict the physics
of evidently, a dwarf may over a giant.
Say, yes, to ultimate tensile strength
and frailty that allows us
to be drawn drum-tight thin and musical
as bow caresses the pointed aim
of violin's high mourning.
Today, America cracks agape
along branches of madness.
An eagle egg despairs itself
into a trillion fragments
against the crazed soccer knee of god.
Trust when I confide,
momma's rage filled every Latina
stereotype to overflow. Quick angry
—glamoured with rainbow sequins,
on three inch lucite heels, punctuated
in slashes of scarlet lipstick.
I accepted explosion like surprise surprise
an IED in Kandahar clicks,
shrapnel whistles New York New York
in Sinatra's tenor, natural and guilt-free as breathing.
Don't allow one single bloodless bastard
to sell you this nonsense as iron bridge.
I bent forward, forward, and forward
without breaking, trying fluid
forgiveness, testing wines of mercy,
while she checked the inherited true
of my spine's longitude.
She died young exactly as a meteor
breaks the back of fall, bright
and bitter sped. It divided my heart
—how a spark blinks to wish on.
I'm riser from the nest
of my momma and tread
for the rest of my daughter
who won't be forced to leap
the threshold of her house on fire.
stephanie roberts is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poetry has been featured in numerous periodicals including Verse Daily, Arcturus, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Atlanta Review, FLAPPERHOUSE, L'Éphémère Review, Occulum and Crannóg. Born in Central America, she grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and now, from a wee French town outside of Montréal, she dreams of compassion based society. Twitter/Instagram shenanigans @ringtales.