Girl by featured artist Lora Mathis


      Cuatro Mujeres (Four Women)

      My grandmother is fussing over
      my mother’s shoulder in the kitchen.
      The air, thick with garlic, dense
      in the perfume of troubled women.
      There is a dance, a cradling of spoon;
      this is how you slice the plantain,
      peel the stubborn skins

      away from the meaty flesh, repeat.
      In the living room, my daughter
      sits on the floor, legs sprawled, mouth
      agape in red wild laughter, banging
      wooden spoons across the tops
      of empty pots, a few pieces of dry
      cereal scattered. She gurgles,

      sings to me, Buenos Días,
      a chorus of perfect teeth smile,
      a parade. Abuela bursts, a chime
      of aged rum and cackle, fingers
      coated in olive oil, knuckles deep
      in the proud work of a good meal.

      This is how you taste for rhythm, let
      the simmer of sofrito and adobo melt
      between tongue and teeth. A little
      more pique, a little aguacate. Hand me
      the Tostonera, Sarah.
      We are – all
      of us – this one sacred thing, wrapped

      in the stretch of the longest
      summer, humid air settling in the cracks
      of linoleum, where the bones of us
      hunger for nothing. Where we fill our whole
      mouths with banana leaves, and sing,
      and sing, and sing.


      Letter to a Man Who Knows

      You were cut in perfect lines
      on a mirror cracked from all the tapping,
      a single tear upon a razor blade
      that had not yet drawn blood.
      It was an unromantic winter inside the walls
      of your section eight apartment,
      garbage littered concrete, everything gray,
      everything hopeless.

      You told me the other children
      laughed at you on your first day of kindergarten,
      that you came from a place where
      the wind makes instruments out
      of abandoned praise, that your first kiss
      was a glass pipe left out like
      an after school snack by your mother,
      that it was the most loving gesture she ever made.

      You told me your first love was a prostitute
      named Edna, you still think of her every now and then:
      how you both dreamed of leaving these loveless streets
      behind you; how she was beaten to death
      by two junkies with an old rusted pipe over five dollars
      and an emptied bag of blow.

      You say we are but thankless insects,
      scattered like rock and smashing fist,
      waiting to be driven from creation, by a boy
      who kisses crack pipes and calls it Spring.
      You tell me you never meant to hurt me, that girls
      like me don’t grow on trees where you
      come from, that stealing is next to second nature,
      and your conscience has long been resigned
      to a cold and unforgiving grave.

      You told me you used to hide in the moldy cellar
      of your grandmother’s house, pretending to be a bird
      with gilded wings, pretending your uncle’s stale
      smelling flesh was an apparition, just like the one
      you ultimately became to me.

 


Sarah Myles Spencer

I currently live and create in Dallas, Texas. I’ve had the awesome opportunity of working with a variety of artists including Snoop Dog, E-40, and (the late) Davy Jones and have curated shows for poets such as Sonya Renee Taylor and Denise Jolly. In 2010 I released an album with my band, Laydibluez, and in 2011 won the CAMMIE award for Best Vocalist. My work appears on The Sound Atlas, in Requiem Magazine, and Blogtalk Radio. When I’m not writing, I’m singing, eating chocolate, and snuggling with my family, often simultaneously. sarahmylesspencer.com