(The Northridge Review, Spring 2014)
I am the naked tree.
My bony, withered fingers
from the air.
I am refuge.
Unlike my sisters,
green and huge,
with endless nests
of squawking male-things
in their embraces—
of soft earth,
unlike my sisters,
Published Poems by Laurisa White Reyes
when, as children,
to gather pinecones.
Cradled in our shirts
we carried them
the smooth-shelled nuts
the wooden laps.
from the sap and soil,
held fast to the rough bark.
The same outstretched limbs
which held our weight
so confidently –
in winter bore the burden
of heaps of snow.
at the slightest bit of green
and tip our faces down
awaiting the avalanche to follow.
But it is the fragrance
I remember most,
the distinctive odor
of pine needles and wild flowers,
the scent of impending rain
carried along a crisp autumn wind,
and the bitter perfume of sap
that saturated our clothes and skin
long after the harvest was over.
(Welcome Home, Dec. 2003)
Hum of her machine.
The thit thit thit of needle
Jabbing at the cloth
While her daughter dreams
Of candy canes and satin
Bows, the mother sews.
Holding pins in teeth
Prick of finger, pinching seams
Foot pressing pedal
Daughter’s hair still lies
In the pattern where mother
Ran her fingers through
Yarn – hand-stitched – for hair
Two eyes, an embroidered smile
Blue calico dress
Underneath the tree –
More than buttons, more than thread
Gift of mother’s love.
(Writer's Journal, Vol. 23, No. 5 - September 2002)
Cannot sing the wind
Cannot chant his name
Like Gregorian rhythms –
Pulsing water ripples.
My brother is buried here.
My steps circumvent
The faceless epitaphs.
My summons go unheard,
The trees drink my tears.
Do their roots embrace him?
I watch children play here
Unsuspecting, and I wonder –
Can the dead hear
The dull clink of shoes upon their names?
Etched in brass
Their names are whispered on the lips
There is no name on which to play,
For countless others to utter
Like any other name.
I breathe in solace –
Feel faint whispers
Beating rhythms in my brain.
My brother is buried here.
I sing the wind.
YOURS AND MINE
"for Brian Combs"
(Westwind Literary Magazine, Fall 2014)
You were moving to Ecuador for a job
and offered your belongings, curios a life collects
while living. But I had trinkets of my own
no one wanted. Then you drove to the gun club,
rented a pistol, and punched a peephole
through your skull. The parts of you
no one wanted—your thwarted dreams
and brittle fears—mopped up, discarded.
Later, those same possessions I rejected
(thread-bare Levi’s, books with broken spines,
tools with tags still on) were packed in boxes
and bequeathed to Goodwill, where strangers
picked through the remnants of you
like crows on road kill. And in the paper:
“A 39-year-old man”— where even your name
was omitted. These holes, then, clotted with regret
are all you left behind.
(riverSedge: A Journal of Art and Literature, 2015 - Volume 28)
Rain falls hard in Retalhuleu.
Corrugated tin roofs amplify
the rhythmic drumming of the rain.
The day’s heat tortures me,
the rack of God demanding confession.
In the distance, Pacaya bleeds.
In this fiery heat, I manage only
rudimental tasks: eat, drink, eliminate, sleep.
I have reversed human evolution
to when man was mere animal foraging for food.
Leaving myself behind, I pursue the rain
through los calles embarradas,
the verdant jungles, and mist-cloaked montañas.
The currents of El Rio Samalá
pulse—the artery of Santiaguito.
Here the rain soothes my open wounds,
quenches my unquenchable thirst.
So that is why I am here.
I am here for the rain.