Jenny Sadre-Orafai





You see an armadillo on concrete.
A crab too—wrong for the landscape.
You hold one in each palm and close
your eyes. You wait for their bodies
to stop clinking. You take them in
your mouth and it isn't unkind because
they are also you.


Someone you love dies. It’s unimportant
which one. You take your crying
to any room. You streak walls painted over
hundreds of times. You take a bus
four times in four directions, smudging
a city into a rock, a pebble
that never settles into the center.


You pack up a house you don't know.
Its floors swept and windows open to change.
You wrap every corner in butcher paper.
Boxes and boxes fill and who can say what
part of recovery this is. You find
a prayer folded in your cheeks and speak it
because you don’t want to take it with you anymore.


Someone shows you what you have
never seen. Floating land and a campfire
sky. You survey it outside of your body
like the end of a map, a lit star that blinks
twice when you’re ready. You never knew
how close you were to opening, how the air
could make your face so clear.


They Put Bows on Churches


I’ve said horrible things.
Told my daughter the earth will die

because I was being honest.
Because I was tired of churches

shut up. Their stiff flowers outside
and inside open too wide to live.

I know what an angel is. I keep it inside
my mouth. No. Further down—

in my teeth roots.
Michael. Gabriel. Raphael.

I take pictures of myself
on hard days. I’ve taken my hair

down because I don’t know
who this day is for or who to give this

sadness to. I know because
I stopped even though

I had permission from the light to leave.

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