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What the Water Gave Me

— Marina Carreira

After Frida Khalo’s 1938 painting

The name where everyone forgets
the “n” or adds another “a”,
making me Maria or Mariana
or any other immigrant’s daughter,
or, where boats live, or of the sea.
When pronunciation isn’t enough.
The ephemera of my grandfather,
spools and needles and tins
of thread, crisply folded bills
that shine like emeralds in leftover bathwater.
The twins’ reflection once tinted
steel against the buzzing
skyline, the Dairy Queens and bodega
kings looking for loose change
on the Riverbank. The dresses
that never made me the woman
my mother hoped for, the birds never
returned to Avó’s cage, the respite
from dark woods after dark-hearted
men took what they’d never asked for.
All the lovers I buried with beautiful lamentations.
All the siblings I drowned and the one I couldn’t.
All the seahorses carrying my daughters’ dreams.
All the carnations blooming from my wife’s palms.
At the foot of this claw-footed haven,
blood red toes like black holes
at the center of a galaxy dazzling
with fire and ice; I am dizzy
in my own becoming.


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