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Poets of the Monterey Bay

Four Poems from Where Stars Begin by Joanna Martin

When My Skin Becomes Your Touch

Your touch flushes out flocks of wild doves
cooing within me,
sets them free.

The heat of your body brands my fingertips.
Call it criminal. Arrest me.
At the police station, encoded in my inked prints,
the milagro of your shape.

All I ask is to become your hum,

to climb to the north pole of your heart’s axis, tilted
towards me.

Touch me with your velvet palms,
seal the memory of my body in your hands
for safekeeping.

Cage me in your ribs. Hide me beneath your wings.

My heart, a caved siren, a red sea star. Go ahead,
drown me.

Even our shadows ignite
ruby red in moonlight.
Flame up.

Highway 1

It was a day made of fog.
A day made of my mother.

Fog the color of the tip of seagull wings
so that you could see only the white core of them.

Shore’s taper. Unseen waves, their small sound.

Fog’s grey erasure. Wings crumbling. Definition,
the edges of things, whole vehicles, even,

around a suspended steering wheel,

so that when life and death met on the blade of a knife
flight depended on a crumbling wing, depended
on a shift of wind, on a fog lift.
                                                   Depended on a cracked windshield,
spattered red from the inside. Depended on the wingspan
of her last exhalation.

Blue Baby

A silvered sickle,
a crescent moon,
I came out of the womb
Wax statue,
skin varnished
a fine vernix silt,
and beneath, my mother’s rare blood type
exploding my red blood cells
into a river of blue,

A night baby, cobalt baby,
moon flower.

Out of the womb throbbing,
gasping for oxygen, drowning from inside.

The ambulance, traveling ninety,
my first cradle made
of metal and glass,
its siren bleeding the night sky red,
cometed me across state lines
at four hours old
for my first blood transfusion,
my father holding me tighter,
the distance between my mother and me
—her arms cradling nothing—

Loving What Remains

Doves hidden deep in the shadows of a palm
as if trees could coo, coconuts roost,
fronds take wing.

As if each thing transforming into another
were more true
than staying fixed within a single being.

My father no longer a man but a place and time,
a memory of what we all once were:
cut grass gleaming in the sun,
irises lining the drive.

My tiny grandmother, as she roasted the chicken,
peeled potatoes,
filled her small kitchen,
pulsing and glowing
like a firefly caught in a jar.

Now, in this afternoon of endless blue sky
anchored only by the faintest outline of a crescent moon,

between a wing and branch,
a leaf and that moon,
again my dad, red dragonfly,
whizzes by…

Copyright 2013