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at dusk, the jigsaw puzzle of the cracked mesa
molts sulfur blue, nuclear-fissions into a Jericho
of blue roses and peacocks. the sapphire coveted
by both pyromaniac and alchemist.

the dichotomy of dark and light melts down in our bodies
and blossoms a language where nouns
replace themselves with birds.                     my mother bends like an agave blossom

under her father’s darkness. in the old corral, penny-stamped horses
strike the night with tin hooves, whipping up the moonlight
into cream.

the blood of the brothers begins to poppy the slopes
of blue mountains, tints each family photograph

with rust. I ask my mother if all language is an exile.
she combs my hair with a butterfly.


tonight our bodies nest like black swans in the amaryllis,
beyond the moon-mirrored adobe. your face, an antelope skull
encrusted in purple sand, horns coiling with the smoke of flies.

my mother’s hands are the songbirds that rainbow
a battered clay window. are ladles of well water
for a wildfire of foxes. for this parched language that rusts
without the antecedent of rain.

the desert melts down into hot wax, festers this banquet
of luminous abuelas and Spanish dancing shoes,
tambourine doves and carnival bears. where husbands and fathers kneel
at our laps as snowy stags. my mother, la princesa de rosas azules,

burns under a scorpion crown. she tells me one day the words will muerte themselves,
will mariposa themselves, will phoenix into terrible wings,
and weld each noun to thing. her hands, dark oleanders tipped in blood.
when she speaks, my palms burn with hot rain.

Steffi Lang is a Latina-German American originally from the US-Mexico borderlands, now living on a mountain tip in rural Appalachia among sightings of Sasquatch and ghost trains. Her writing has appeared in Haverthorn, Rust + Moth, The Apeiron Review and is upcoming in Duende and others.
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