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2 Poems

Sarah-Marissa Marquez

A New Creation

What am I? I am only interested in myself at the beginning, when I existed as nothing but a shy shade of blue in God’s watchful eye. A private prayer pinned to my mother’s lips: please let it be a girl. Even then, I made her wait. I was not ready to believe in me. The bronze hand on my back. The breath of my father, next to me. A chill in the room. Today, I write him into my poems because I am guilty. I didn't witness his body shutting down after 60 years. I couldn’t listen while he prayed for more time. I fled his funeral Mass, and the priest gave the final blessing: Eternal rest grant unto him and peace to us who mourn. I don’t cry anymore, except for my childhood – for what might have been different if I hadn’t been ashamed of his last name. I always preferred to be known as my mother’s daughter – ready to argue the same point over and over, or let it define me as a mistake the universe is too busy to correct. Now I understand I have a reason to trace my experience back to those days when all there was to life was simple – being an echo of my father’s smile. Again, I ask myself, What am I? I wonder how deep generational sameness goes? I admire the glossy spider web constructed in the windowsill, that never breaks but catches all the rain coming through the glass. I only notice it when the storm has stopped, and I remember to look inside at the world I’ve made out of objects I collect: fiction books, pop culture figurines, floral dresses I wear for the antique mirror hanging over the closet door, bending sharp angles I inherited into gentle curves. I almost took myself out in it, but anxiety held me back. I only show myself when I am confident I am a new creation and ghosts won’t manifest to haunt me, as long as the day is clear, and the sun is at its highest in the sky.

I am confident today is for slowing down

I have just noticed the unlucky moth

caught in the quivering web of a false widow

and pulsing its wings in a panic.

The June sun hiding in the gloom,

and the amber light of the floor lamp

refracting off the windowpane.

I remind myself, breathe. I have been here

before. I need a new word to ground me

after a long year of stretching my energy—

a little more, a little more. Witnessing

everyone I follow getting ahead. I’m sad to say,

I am not ambitious. Sometimes I am, and I make

art when the blank page calls. It takes practice

to master white space. A commitment to no structure

at first. The grace to empty out, the way the poet

at a craft talk softly brushes the flower tattoo

on her shoulder and says, I don’t put anything in a poem

that I wouldn’t say out loud. I resent the constant spinning

of clock hands. The background tick-tick-ticking as I work,

no break / no pause / no inhale. Submissions close in 3 days.

I’ll be 29 in October. It’s 2 a.m. again and I can’t sleep.

I search YouTube for meditations to relax me all the way down,

from the top of my head to the balls of my feet.

I get up and prepare hot tea—mango ginger with

freshly squeezed lemon. My wise tea bag informs:

The only tool you need is kindness. A self-love language

to deliver me from me, at my most critical: Do better.

Stand up for yourself. For how much longer will I remain

ordinary? One crying session away from a refreshed action plan

to compose an authentic life? A rule guide I can hand out

to strangers as I go—this is how to love all of me.

Female softness. The uneasy patience of a woman

blooming in the final spring, and her spicy perfume,

drifting nowhere.

Sarah-Marissa Marquez is an MLIS student based in Los Angeles. She has work published and forthcoming in various magazines and journals, including Madrigal Press, Mud Season Review, Salamander, SHIFT, and Statement Magazine. When not writing, she can be found on Threads @smclaire.jmj, X and Bluesky @Sarahmarissa338, and exploring the fediverse

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