Maybe a Ghost Carried Me Here
you, with your pale face me
a false mirror—
reflected features nameless
unlike my washed
love is when the smallest
poem flickers in an open mouth.
but I fill soap jugs with sallow.
in the cupboards a mountain song
if you listen close
I pulse foreign into your ear
an ugly cat thrumming on the sill
& I mistake a blink for a shrug
because it shudders in the dim,
an embering cloud or a singed
dove feather you lit in my sleep
dandelion waft & shadow pillow.
a curl of your hair in my palm,
white birch from a charred forest
I used to hum things: wild fingers,
rustling sugar on my brown shoulders—
chopping jade chives on the kitchen block
& cinnabar under my toes
& my limbs twining sun
& the sobs never.
click your teeth twice
maybe by then I’ll be home.
narra branches will sway
as garnets dot the sky.
upstairs a plain blue space where
streaks of birdcry sully the night
According to the article “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice” in American Psychologist, an example of a racial microaggression is an assumption of criminality. A person of color is presumed to be dangerous, criminal, or deviant on the basis of their race.
INA CARIÑO is a 2022 Whiting Award winner with an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Their poetry appears in The American Poetry Review, The Margins, Guernica, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere.