Gift: A name to life

I wonder why red. Why the borders of her lips
were traced with such a fiery and rough-cut color. why she picked
aftermath of war to wipe on her face. I wonder if she looked in the mirror
before she left.

She is beautiful in all of her glory, and she makes me think
of women who cook for husbands who kill, of women who kill
for husbands who boil rage in their gut, simmer
poison in their intestines to have erupt across
enemy lines.

I wonder why me, why her smile, why my name
squeezes a crinkle into both eyes, why crow’s feet, who can take
flight, clawed onto the face of such a woman, stuck
beyond borders.

I think your swallowed story is mine.
I have dug both hands into old stanzas in search of an accent
that’s left me bereft. I stubbed my toe on an arrhythmic couplet and lost
all sense of cadence. I spoke aloud and snapped my fingers, and no birds flew fearfully
from any nearby tree. I have sunk into a soft “t” one
too many times, without the assertive thunder of speech
to lift me out.

So I wonder why she, why her smile…

-Stephanie Ambroise


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