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autumn/winter 2018

Two Poems

by Britny Cordera

Art: "Hatch" by Constance SHERESE, 2017


––for my mound-building ancestors


When the mound people crawl out of their ancestor's bones

they don't cry, they know no sin. But my mother, who wants

to be saved from her own reflection, 

                whose blood


& beliefs will return to the waters of the Red River regardless

of where she thinks she's from, says we are born 

sinners because we are born unhappy, 

                thanks to Eve.


As a child, I remembered why we cry when ripped 

from the womb, why some of us choose not to scream

for breath in the beginning, but return to 

                Corn Mother instead.


We forget a kind of crawling out of copper-clay burials 

& the sun can't keep track of all his sons & daughters 

if daylight does not touch 

                our feet first.


Instead, the Word whispers Let there be light. 

Fluorescent lights meet our green eyes not yet ready 

to know a world. Too early we learn 

                to lose ourselves


in bright places. Imagine this first pain for an infant 

trapped nine months in a buffalo sack of darkness & silence––

like the moment morning jolts you 

                awake & consciousness


returns too fast, before it sees the dream has vanished. 

The body cries a little to make sure the breath 

didn’t drift any deeper 

                into the grave. Then, this eventual


elusion of salience. Perhaps someone somewhere 

keeps us in a sealed glass jar, a terrarium by the window

waiting to be knocked off by a cat, 

                moonless as night.



It doesn't matter which bird. From fragile bone, the bare chick's

soft tufts grow from its back become robes of flight & it's pinyon 

has forgotten why this nervous flier. Trapped as a book mark in a 

notebook, a feather fallen from kings of sky breathes in & out with 

my own breath as if conducive to giving into it's own death with wind,

or happily prostrating itself to the rhythm of its purpose. I beg a you 

to sit & watch the feathers fall from the prison of my black cat's mouth, 

watch me turn the feathers, your keepsakes, star buttons, & charms into a

gris-gris bag & stuff it in a lucky doll because all things have better

meaning when stitched with red yarn & the secrets of cowrie shells .

Art: "Duo" by Constance SHERESE, 2015

Cordera is a two-year Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a proud woman of color and Louisiana Creole poet, descending from African, Indigenous, and French/Spanish ancestors. Starting Fall 2018, she will be an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

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