On Forgiving the Man Who Made Me a Poet from His Rib
I knew you as a desert
played across your daddy’s walkman
when we drove past Santa Fe
that summer you lost your job.
I knew you as a canyon
into which we flew while belting
“Sweet Wet Dreams.” The peach
and cherry sherbet sky.
You slid open our sunroof,
climbed until your chest
would pound the wind,
then spread your arms into it
as if rain was all that you had left
to give. When you finally began to howl,
I knew you as a wolf without a crescent
singing back upon his face.
The highway grew into
an empty universe we strung
with yellow bulbs and tulips
pulled in greedy fistfuls
from our mouths. I would
always be your daughter
after that, and when we drove
without our headlights
through a valley, you confessed
that you were thinking
how a man could disappear
inside his body if he wanted.
I said, “Remember how
you used to hit me, dad.”
Then you were quiet,
as I watched you stare into
the dark lines of your palms,
Guerrilla Fighter Manifesto
Burn a sewing needle
through blue flames.
A mercury brown bottle
from below the stove.
Wooden splinters in the finger. She says: Nothing
compared to what I’ve seen before.
Gold nuggets taken piece by piece until
a yellow chest becomes
the six-inch ginger grater.
FROM THIS, A MANIFESTO:
One. Never, ever beg for food.
Two. To leave a good impression,
learn the names of all your captors.
Be at ease,
and try to use their names
at least once in conversation.
Do not quit your day job.
Three. Learn how to miscarry the body
when they come for you
at last, and keep
your face concealed, if possible.
Collect your boys when they
start shooting in the dark. Four.
Forgive your anger, not your fear.
Forgive your actions, not your words.
Forgive your words. Forgive. From all of this, a dirge.
I sent my body home / in naming it, became another sister
In her despair, my twin would cut her hair and
bleach it white with silicone around the tips.
I’d walk with her to town. She was so proud of this:
an airport named for possums upside down.
The tarmac streaked with wax. I’d watch that body
trip across it. Who could not leave. This place.
Another place. A maverick in place of light.
Who crows. To crow. My sister’d shield her ears
then cut my hair again. This body in two halves.
Who could not leave. This place.
beside me left her black hair shorn deep in the ground, our tarmac
stripped as bark of birch, as viper of my eyes. Once Japanese
a traitor, always then a body
split in half.
What place makes this kind of people name their people
citizen. What kind of light. What kind of holy man in here.
My twin wants to assimilate, to make an honest living
out of questions: What. Your name, where. It from.
I mean where is it really from, I mean, that dick,
you have one, right, I mean, you people have one, right,
that fair trade, next, a torso, next those yellow hands in droves,
you called us, right, a savage land. What kind of god is this.
Not body. Not. Not shōgun, no, not human. Human. Human.
Sophia Terazawa is the author of I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press).