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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Mexico Pelican

                                                       

 

Skydancer circles sails,

riding aft of wind.

Crook neck, pike and dive,

diamond angle descent

to foambubbling, cresting,

stiff whipped meringue

sliding off its pie.

Needle beak tucks

under dazzling azul

to pluck jeweled fins,

spinning disco ball light

over fishermen

tethered to lines

triangled in the plume.

 

                   -Joanna White




Place of Missing Parts 


                                                                 

Tell me how to be here without

becoming five.

I was a good girl once.

I listened to what I was told.

Don’t cry, they said

so I didn’t. I don’t.

Tell me why you are here? they ask.

(They don’t want to take out the wrong part.)

I want to scream now.

 

I lie on a table, sterilized

needles pointing, masked figures

all eyes, and remember.

I was a good girl once,

quiet as a milkweed,

but they held me down as the hissing gas

smoked through my brain,

in warping, pulsing swirls.

I want to scream now.

 

My heart clangs in warning.

I was a good girl once,

crayon drawings all in rainbow,

but that did not stop them

slicing into me and removing

some misshapen part,

leftover flaps stitched

like a child’s abandoned sewing project.

I want to scream now.

 

Once I kept quiet

but now I want to scream,

and if you touch me,

the balloon twisting clown

with the painted smile

will spin you around in his red wagon

until all that’s left of you

is dust of bones.

I was a good girl once. I held it all in.

I even learned to leave

my body, wisping out windows

high up on the children’s floor.

 

Once my heart thrummed so softly

I became invisible

among calling children.

I was a good girl then.

I want to scream now.

How many more parts

can I live without?

There are no windows here.

Tell me how to disappear!

 

                      -Joanna White




Tree of Preaching to the Birds                             

 

I switchback Mt. Subasio, my capped

toe sandals kicking up Umbrian dirt,

dust settling on my bare shoulders

like a monk’s cloak. Four kilometers up,

thighs burning, I top out at Eremo della Carceri,

Hermitage of St. Francis, trade euro coins

for warm lemonade, sour sweet curling

my tongue. Boys twirl the trinket rack,

plastic saints swirling.

 

Following the path past the chapel,

I descend stone steps and see

Albero della predica agli ucelli.

Brassbolts stake spindled branches

to the brick wall, oak tufts bristling.

I picture ucelli, who clasped

these craggy boughs and flocked to perch.

Did he really call them sisters, praise

their feathered attire, tell them God

delivered lakes and streams

and was it at this tree?

 

Mounting a ledge, I hunch, arms

around my knees, peering all the way

down the mountain to Porziuncola.

A silver haired man, beard tangled

as a nest, climbs the rock.

How long do you think oak trees live?

he asks.

I tell him I don’t know, turning to look

at the propped arb,

About four hundred years, he says.

Taking a stick from his right pocket

and a knife from the left,

he starts to carve. White flaps peel and curl

like ribbons to the earth below,

a bird taking shape beneath his fingers.

 

                                             -Joanna White





Pelican, Kennen White