conjuring anew

Poetry / Raena Shirali

you don’t know why you feel the urge to tell him
in his absence you collect debris   :   ripped

envelopes, the coin he pressed against your nipple
to see how hard you’d shiver

you thought then you knew the cold. you thought then
your spikes were weapons

so you are a spine with several protrusions

that doesn’t make you unlovable

remind yourself   :   your situation is only negative
if you consider it in contrast to pastels   :   the sky almost
a dusting of pink, his thumb & forefinger
hooked around your earlobe

he calls you paint speckled
but means rust ridden. he calls you corrugated

but you’re already on your back. you’re too fair
to be   :   too dark to be   :

if you took all the cloud’s colors at dusk & mixed them together
you’d get brown, anyway. in this way, you are at the center
of the sky—& he is another object
headed straight toward it

or this is no firmament, but a landfill

you may be just another artifact
kept in an old shoebox—a love letter he takes out
after several glasses, reads less-than-fondly

it’s hard, isn’t it, to look at yourself

without a mirror   :   without a man

if you’re ready for the recipe, take out your largest
porcelain bowl. gather scents you feel are particularly

you   :   rosemary, lavender, rain soaked cigarettes, dark
ripe sweat. let them sit with each other.

in the half light by a lace curtain
resist the urge to mix. resist the urge

to make any blooming of your simplest parts

at least, if you’re going to be a cold, left thing
you can call yourself spica

at least, once you’re cold & left
you can call yourself anything

Indian American poet Raena Shirali grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where she currently lives and teaches English at College of Charleston. Her first book, GILT, is forthcoming in 2017 with YesYes Books, and her work has appeared in Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Four Way Review, Indiana Review, Muzzle Magazine, Ninth Letter, Tupelo Quarterly, Pleiades, and many more. Her other honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2016 Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. She will also be the Spring 2017 Philip Roth Resident at the Stadler Center for Poetry, and currently serves as a poetry reader for Muzzle Magazine.