Ina Cariño

Ina Cariño

Maybe a Ghost Carried Me Here

you, with your pale face          me
                a false mirror—
reflected features nameless
                unlike my washed
                plum belly. 
                                 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.