You swear I erode you.
My love, there are doors that weep.
There are children who survive on wild gardenia.
Men who never recover after they listen
to the thunder in their sleeves.
I want to tell you the truth. No other lover ever stood
behind these doors, though tempests have come and gone
like fathers. Mornings were here too,
with birds and berries and I never asked where
they went when they ceased to color
This city is an ocean of swords and steel toe boots,
when plunged in darkness.
Maybe it’s Tupac or the rain that makes me feel
I owe iron to the men who walk their bones so cautiously
around puddles, dogs, each other. They all look the same
from the 21st floor.
I believe in
the swift cut of an onion, how cotton fresh
out of the dryer leaves dust on the fingertips, that best before
is not an expiry date.
I feel restless. I feel soft.
I worry about the noise I have kept up in my brain.
I worry about the mesh you tear through.
There will be a second chance,
my American friends assure me. Obama will win again.
There has always been a second chance. Your hands
embalmed in garlic: I have not been left
stripped in a metal bowl. I have never been that close
I still don’t know the best place
Cynthia Dewi Oka is a poet, educator and author of the debut poetry collection nomad of salt and hard water. Born and raised in Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia migrated to Turtle Island at the age of 10 and lived for many years in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories, prior to residing in New Jersey. She is a a VONA alumnus and member of the Press Release and Cinderblock Poets collectives. Her work has appeared in Kweli Journal, 580 Split, Zocalo Poets, Briarpatch Magazine, Leftturn: the Global Intifada, Borderline Poetry, Generations Literary Journal and Boxcar Poetry Review, among other publications. www.dinahpress.com / cynthiadewioka.wordpress.com.