by Yumi Dineen Shiroma

and in the water's close my wrists are bound,
hair snarled like weeds,
flaring in this fractured light. a crowd has come,
who breathed once the air which fails my lungs,
who tended their sick with cracked hands and salt tears
and ate of my earth,
of ours

blue within green
within blue

these cattails whispered once
but they have turned their backs. they dance on the banks
and are mute

this pull,
the sun's wash

I remember how they dragged me from the hearth,
the dark, their talk of evil eyes
they could not meet

this stretch between
my lips and life

and they bloodied my feet my palms
with pins' pricks, as though I were leather,
stubborn, refusing
to tear

lungs, twin stones
in my chest

I claim only years and crows, bent at my door
like suitors' knees. but if you urge confession I will say:
if I could buoy myself I would
wash you in brine. if I could
fly, sprout at last
my wind-soaked wings —
I would dig fingers in the air
and climb until the stars fell

Yumi Dineen Shiroma is a student at Swarthmore College and a graduate of the Alpha writers' workshop. In addition to poetry, she writes stories about unhappy leftists and trains. Her favorite fruit is the blackberry, though she is partial to the word "kumquat." She can be reached at

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