by Dorsía J. Smith


My son asks me what happened to his baby brother.

What baby brother?

The one in your belly, Mama.

Why he’s gone to the air, I say,
like a ball of cells radiating by motion.
It’s that simple.

Why can’t I see him?

He’s circling the orbit and gliding
past the moon’s bright light,

Like a child, you wonder, “Why doesn’t he ask for me?”

How eager you are to know him,
watch him become born in another galaxy.

Oh, you see, he’s waiting for us in the field of stars:
to show us the beauty clearly seem against a dark sky.

Paradise Lost

This is not going to hurt. I lie
when I press the alcohol swab
against your scraped knee.
I want to say, “This is just
the first wound of many.”
But I hesitate to have you
see the disfigured world so correctly.
Why should you be a witness to this?
It should be a secret, at least until your
adolescence. By then, you will realize
we remain figures of denial.

And my hand momentarily scoops up the
cotton patch and taps a bandage into place.
It changes nothing: you cry,
a small child terrified.
And then it didn’t matter what words I said:
the pain had already been proven.

It’s 1 AM When Heartbreak Calls

You go straight to the shower,
trying to scrub her from you skin.
Yet, the citrus perfume and lemongrass lotion remain,
the trail of cigarette smoke too.
This lie you wear so perfectly like
a second layer of skin,
I wonder: does it ever cry out for rest
or fear something when I ask you where have you been and
where are you going?
Can’t you take me here and there?
This is what I dream of when you hurry out the door again.
I turn to my side, make-believe there are far worse things
than being lonely.

For My Grandfather, Much Later

You died when I was sixteen.
At your funeral,
I was quiet, brave, strong
unlike a girl of sixteen.
But I had wanted to ask,
who was that man in the box
with the heavy makeup?
Was that my grandfather?
Why were your cheeks so red?
Why were your hands like wax,
tightly folded into fabric?

Questions like a child of sixteen
with no one to answer.

My father is comforting my aunt.
My brother and I are listening to “Taps”
and watching the folding square of flag
become a triangle.
I throw the white rose of goodbye
onto your casket—
desert dirt staining my dress
like grief at sixteen.

An Impromptu


This is not a love poem.
To be a love poem
you must scorch letters,
razor away the photo smile,
toss away the frame.

Chopin made no public appearances between February 1842 and February 16, 1848, when he gave his land concert in Paris. By this time, the passion between him and Madame Sand had cooled.


Cremate that rug,
She has touched that.
Her typewriter?
Yes, that has to go too.


The strains in their relationship lead to a final break in July 1842.


Laser my hands.


Chopin’s health deteriorated rapidly after the break. He composed only two more works.


Remove the ashes.
Tell him that it happened to Casimir and Musset also.


If this is a love poem,
the words would cinder into scars,
not the chords of a sonata.