Today, finally, submitted a substantial portion of my verse novel, Awake, to my thesis professor!
Still have a lot of work cut out, though...revision, editting on the novel and revision, editting on my critical introduction to the novel! Yikes! By April 8!
But to celebrate today's milestone, here are the first three poems/chapters...let me know what you think!
October 25, Sunday’s Best
My mother standing at the door, gathering wits. I see her
breathing. My eyes closed. She’s had a long night. Nothing
my brain wants to know.
Bet she’s in Sunday’s best. Sunglasses, of course.
A black slip under her blouse—discreet, long sleeves,
lace, hiding purple arms.
I’m asleep. The bath water is warm, scented with my favorite,
jasmine and lilac oil.
Alex! Get out right now, her voice demands.
I’m asleep, remember?
Breathe in, breathe out. I’m a water fairy floating on wet sand.
Alejandra Maria De Luna, I said get out. We can’t get to church late.
Do I dare say it? Say what I think? I only mutter I don’t care
under my breath. Under water. I sink.
Alex! Right before her manicure flings water at my face.
Ok, Mom. I get it. But just once, can’t I stay?
You know your father. Let’s not ruin today.
She bends to the water, lace lingering on the porcelain.
Her skin touching mine. Her palm on my cheek, warm,
jasmine and lilac oil.
I do what I can everyday, Alex.
She never does anything for me. My eyes water and beg.
Now she begs,
Don’t look at me that way.
I turn away. Count tiles—cool, violet, gold, wet.
You better be ready, last thing from her lips, sounding just like Dad.
Under water all is dark. I swim calm in one place,
waves far away. Door slams shut.
August 14, Things Change
Lilac petals line the chain-link fence, crying tears for my mother. I wake
to silence, morning shadows. My father already gone on a Sunday.
Used to be our day of rest and pancakes, spongy, warm, butter
swirled with syrup.
But the silence is loud. My window percolates in clouds, coffee
mugs lay dormant, unused, unmoistened by lips,
Only unwashed dishes to clean, rinse. Left undone
by my mother. My mother undone by my father
during dinner the night before.
Me in my room.
When did all change? I remember my brother, our fort-castle of mud
sticks and dandelions, pink cardboard boxes and make-believe
I was the princess.
My brother the prince. Later my protector
who left when I turned thirteen. Before all got out of hand.
All he left was a note addressed to me.
Take care. Leave when you can. Mom won’t. Will write soon. Joined marines.
Four years later. No note. Antonio, why did you forget me?
I wish I was a normal girl with a hot boyfriend.
He’d make me forget. He’d make me feel special.
Cappuccino and waffles. That’s who we’d be,
warm lips to kiss.
August 17, Church Women
Church-goers. Men of standing. Respectable wives,
acrylic nails, colored hair.
All find him
appealing, charismatic, godly.
Some say attractive.
An upstanding citizen,
serving as church deacon,
ushering to empty seats,
flashing smiles to pretty women.
My mother hallelujahs and amens with the rest.
Once a month she smile-hides behind sunglasses and big hair,
third pew where I sit besides her.
Where I do not listen to a word the minister says.
Other women smile at her, at me, knowing. But not really
knowing the devil lives in our home. And the woman
who maybe does know doesn’t care. He touches her hips.
He only touches my mother with a fist.
The laureles, purple in bloom, cry
behind the fence.
They are what I know,
only place I’ve been.