Paula Mendoza

Left By the Ship

seized with the dull hunger of leaving 

a gnaw ached in, the distance
took with blood.

i, and what a thing to wish — to be  
absolved a mother

to hover above
like a scale of oil or Christ.

like the last living gull.

weather is either 
monsoon, or dry. always

a poverty so lush, even the garbage 

The cinematography was excellent. A palette of earthy grays and jewel greens. And the subjects, well chosen. One girl, Margarita De La Rosa, second generation Amerasian, had such intensity that all the rain seemed to draw inward and collect in her gaze. You could not help but invest in their common trouble as a sympathetic aesthete, moved by how slowly gorgeous the ruining. Such mud, such mosses. Set in relief by burnish and bleak, a radiant deteriorate. I understood every word spoken, skimming between translations, those skins. Affections a sieve in what contrived mesh. Sun bladed in, and with all my doors open, a hornet flew into my apartment. And I spoke to it, as if it could hear and only refused to listen. As if it could be coaxed back outside. I threatened to kill it. I derided it for its stupidity, hitting the glass in soft thuds, and it sounded like the pad of a finger tapping against a window to catch someone’s attention outside. It wanted to be outside, but couldn't find its way to the open door. It may still be in here. It may have rested on the low sill. And if I see it, I will have to kill it.

I speak with no mark of where I am 
from. My tongue tastes like anywhere I am.

I can swallow a word 
or draw it long like molasses.
In Texas, it’s orl. And mesquite’s growed in sorl. 
I lack what I lack. I lack it when you small.

occident, does it golden under, my supple umber?

always they are wanting to eat me.

                                                    I want you in my mouth

go ahead.

                                                    I want to bite

go ahead.

My mother was an island girl.
My father was a city boy.

They ran away, they ran away.
And I did, too.

And we never went back.
And we never went back.
And we never went back.

Paula Mendoza’s work has appeared in PANK, The Awl, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. She blogs for the Michigan Quarterly Review, and lives in Austin, Texas.