Rising Star, 1971
— grace lytle

I won’t ask you about the Claddagh

on your wedding band or the hills

like humpback whales, greenbacked

in algae and how they seemed to be

swimming away as you boarded ship.

The fields full of nothing and the children

clawing at their stomachs like cats

kneading blankets before sleep.

The midwife who took infancy like Mary

and Joseph accepted gifts of wise men,

placed her palms on swollen belly

and drew a map to somewhere else.

I won’t ask about close quarters and

the outdoor toilet. Spiders inching over

ceilings in the dark, so you only knew

they were there by a faint tapping.

How did New York look before it

became a twinkling tinsel thing?

I toured a tenement house on Orchard Street

last June. It could’ve been you who squeezed

into it when you arrived, forced off a ship

like sheep into a pen and given a new name.

Bastardization after bastardization.

Voyages paint over everything else.


Grace Lytle is a poet from Houston, Texas. She has previously been published in Canvas Literary Journal, 45th Parallel Magazine, and Anti-Heroine Chic, among others.