Sophia Terazawa


             Somewhere nearby a frog
             begs a snake.
             —Yusef Komunyakaa, “Monsoon Season”

A fog had draped her hair
around the Chase Tower in Dallas
the morning you returned.

                            Was it twenty years or more
                            since we last spoke?

Our orange tree had died
then came anew the night that Bowie
dropped Blackstar behind.

                             Remember how your stillbirth felt
                             a rhythm in its passing.

Somewhere nearby a boy
prays a flood.

Somewhere nearby a thigh
parts a knife.

I had flinched.

In the bedroom you protected
me from racial epithets like _____,
___________ and _________.

Broke our vows,

made moonlight out of panting,
licked our roses in the jungle

you had called me yours.

                             Nearby unmarried
                             stags in hunting

stop to look.



               They are dumping animal blood into the sea
               to bring up the sharks.
               —Adrienne Rich, “Waking in the Dark”

Harbinger of blue jays
                              bathing at the crack of spring,

              windows open to a world unknown—
              man smoking his cigarette below
                      a furnace
                           out-of-service since
                           the revolution failed us.
                                     Please send

Help. The capital
                      is shutting down for good—

Hub of human nature.
Hub of ordinance

                      stopping all communication—
                      nobody gets in, and nobody leaves.

         The post office in ruins
         carries cadence through our letters,
                                              most likely unanswered,
                 most likely used as kindling.

Hostile acts of silence,
             city after city after city—
             this montage
                     our only message out of

Here.   To utter like the willows
             among lifeboats, among thieves,

Heavy bursts of flight,
Heavy jewels crown Orion’s belt
Hanging in a northern sky
                     that we may never reach

                     is prelude at the helm
                     or something weaker than ourselves.

                     In Houston I cup lilies in the water,
                     dip my toes entwined with plastic ties,
                     forget about the blue jays bathing every spring.

                     In New York pit bulls bare their teeth.

                     I comb my dreams in search of tangerines,
                     but find, instead, pale faces stop and frisk
                     the passengers beside me on their way to work.

Who can cry out.
Who can deny.
Who keeps dumping blood into the sea.

                        Across the North Pacific, women gather
                        on the edge of coasts; these would-be pelicans
                        are dropping from their sea cliffs in the thousands.

                        In New Orleans willows cease to chant.

                        After Katrina, Senate, Nation, Trump,
                        I witness the night. Witness the waking


this was supposed to hurt. I mean,

remember what we carried over
from war into these bones, silver stones

or swallows who swoop for cover, here,
this flesh, a waiting room for sonnets

open-winged.   Metal loses luster
when it sings.   The table, just a bulb

upon a body, is just the light
within its eardrum fading, rather,

legs that hold the woman up tonight,
a flicker, no, the motor speeding

through it like a carpenter who sands
the forest down until we both see

its blackened gums, the saplings who claim
space among a mountain’s scale.   Some call

this mother nature as they stumble
up her spine but never reach asylum.

Will you wait for me there, too, my love?
I’m tired and may never make the climb.

My knees are conifers.   They murmur,
only witnessing the other fall:

Some call this machine buffalo,
poke her belly with a stick, wonder,

quietly, if this beast was pregnant
when they shot her down this morning, or,

maybe she was lost already, so
maybe she was blinded, and no one

chose to stun her, rather, make a point.
Instead, they build a room around her,

rest their guns outside it.  When she wakes,
two hundred women will be staring

at a swallow on the gurney, and she
will shield her eyes, ashamed of this bird

passing through her thighs, a bullet lodged
inside its throat.


Sophia Terazawa is the author of I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press, 2016). Follow her here: