Illustration: Ansellia Kulikku.


Those white girls in swimsuits,
over by where the sphere of old stars overturned on the narrow path leading to the Bronx River,
gave me pills for the first time.
Actually, it wasn’t pills,
it was a gorgeous horse eye they’d found in the water.
It’s a beautiful organ, they’d said,
an iris shaped like a lightbulb.
Then one of them kissed a live, flopping catfish and said it was her husband now.
I dove into the river head first. I’ll be a lamp one day, I thought,
or a flame
with a light’s wingspan flickering 7.6 times per second
over trees in full fruit or maybe be swallowed whole
by a gator mouth and all its bones.
How does it all start?
The harsh, low frequency call,
the alarm to the species.
Depending on the season my hair grows out in two long braids,
two vines grabbing hold of breathing things,
even a living home, drag it down,
windows and all, into the river’s mud here to stay,
to make words never spoken in its life cycle. 

Amy Roa

Amy Roa’s poetry is published or forthcoming in Fugue, North American Review, Quarterly West, The Yale Review, Poetry Northwest, and The Antioch Review. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.