i loved the world so i married it :: josé olivarez

music, even on the day my grandma died
there were mangos though i tasted nothing.

but slowly i came back to the world & carne asada.
better than i remembered, smoke off the meat.  i could not

contain my happiness even though it felt offensive
to smile with my grandma buried & getting eaten

by the flowers. & sometimes, i look at my love &
think i would like to stay, to put a welcome mat

on our doorstep with our names hyphenated.
when i was young i believed in forever. then

my uncle died & i knew forever included none
of my family, included no friends, their stories

rotting in my head until i lose them again, so
i know i will divorce the world & let it keep

my most treasured possessions: a six piece
with lemon pepper & mild sauce on, all the honey

of a slow kiss, my Apple Music playlists,
the way mi abuelita smiled & called me Lupito.

i hated that name except when she said it.

it comes unadorned :: toni morrison

It comes
Like a phrase
Strong enough to cast a spell;
It comes
Like the turn of sun through hills
Or stars in wheels of song.
The jeweled feet of women dance the earth.
Arousing it to spring.
Shoulders broad as a road bend to share the weight of years.
Profiles breach the distance and lean
Toward an ordinary kiss.
It comes naked into the world like a charm.

small kindnesses :: danusha laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

what i didn’t know before :: ada limón

was how horses simply give birth to other
horses. Not a baby by any means, not
a creature of liminal spaces, but already
a four-legged beast hellbent on walking,
scrambling after the mother. A horse gives way
to another horse and then suddenly there are
two horses, just like that. That’s how I loved you.
You, off the long train from Red Bank carrying
a coffee as big as your arm, a bag with two
computers swinging in it unwieldily at your
side. I remember we broke into laughter
when we saw each other. What was between
us wasn’t a fragile thing to be coddled, cooed
over. It came out fully formed, ready to run.

the MRI :: judith skillman

You take off your jewels and your watch,
lie down head first, prepare to enter the cavern.
A nurse, kind and young, arranges you
with a pillow and warm blanket.
She asks are you comfortable?

If only she understood how fretful you’ve been,
claustrophobia growing its cluster of symptoms
each day before this day—and now—
distress, sweat, vertigo. She places
an emergency beeper in your hand.

You can emerge at will from this procedure,
though that will increase the length of time it takes.
You hear the technician’s voice in earphones.
Don’t move. This will be a four-minute cycle.
She sings the instruction manual.

Perhaps you feel like an astronaut
traveling through space,
each radio frequency pulsing a different oscillation.
Some long and deep, others like the backward beeping trucks
in your neighborhood.

You decide to tour the solar system.
After leaving earth, you see the red planet’s dust storms,
pass through the asteroid belt and head to Jupiter.
From there you’re on your way
to the rings of Saturn.

Next Neptune, and, after Pluto and its cousins,
you decide to skip back toward the sun.
By the time you get to Venus
it’s your disks they’ve mapped
with detailed pictures of annular tears.