Alex Holyoake CC
Our House: Ages 9-13
Mother’s liquid Dexedrine glows
Through the large glass bottle
When she pours it into a tablespoon
It’s a neon juice reveal:
Valencian orange glam syrup
Procured by dad that wakes her
From a narcoleptic haze.
In her orbit there are angel
Food cakes and pink Sno Balls
From the Hostess factory.
We binge on sugar to soothe.
She secretly smokes but I dig for the pack
In her purse, rip each cigarette
One by one, over the trash can
As father ordered.
I ruin her weight loss plan.
My birth chains her to him.
She drifts in and out of my life
Takes to her bed with migraines
And the opera of overwhelm.
Her sadness fills sinks and bathtubs.
I can’t turn the faucets off.
She hides in the basement laundry room
Her bomb shelter from a second Blitz.
Father’s belt whips recorded
By my blue arms and living room walls.
I open the hall closet, medicine filled,
Grab cherry red syrup with codeine.
The scenic Costa Brava wallpaper peels.
Yellow tiger’s eye teeth fall out of my mouth.
There’s a woman on her front porch
Inhaling her cigarette. She’s in love
With the slender white stick
Between her fingers.
My fingers pretend to play piano
While tapping my left arm.
Blue-green vein rises and
I stroke it like a purring cat.
It’s been four weeks, heroin,
And I need you to feel nothing.
There is so much I want to tell you
I want to thank you for being my godmother.
For taking me to the church where god doesn’t care
And we don’t pretend he does.
Truth blooms in a way a moon girl can understand
Truth being there is no me.
Just velvet junk afterglow that
Streams from stars into my arm.
On the sidewalk in front of my feet
A grey feather just landed.
The woman lights another cigarette
The smoke smells like her name, Dulce.
I pick up the feather and put its point
To my vein, dream of burnt caramel
Streaming in, lips smack from fast joy--
The sweet blur gone too quick.
Wish alchemy alone could blow my heart open
Fill it with lips to kiss all the losses
Kill the desire for my godmother’s hug.
Carmen Calatayud is the daughter of immigrant survivors of war: a Spanish father and Irish mother. Her book In the Company of Spirits was a runner-up for the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award. Her poetry has appeared in print and online in Cutthroat, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, the Virginia Quarterly Review and several anthologies. For five years, Carmen was a poet moderator for Poets Responding, a Facebook group created by poet Francisco X. Alarcón as part of the immigrant rights movement.
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