Currently Reading: Rose Alcalá's MyOTHER TONGUE

I am especially digging the prose poems in Rose Alcalá‘s MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017). They are haunting and illuminating, and leave my mind hanging in multiple imagined places. Which is always something to admire in a poem: its ability to shift me elsewhere.


She tosses a bolt of fabric into the air. Hill country, prairie, a horse trots there. I say three yards,
and her eyes say more: What you need is guidance, a hand that can zip scissor through cloth.
You need a picture of what you’ve lost. To double the width against the window for the gathering.
Consider where you sit in the morning (transparency’s appealing, except it blinds us before day’s
begun). How I long to captain that table, to repeat in a beautiful accent a customer’s request. My
mother cut threads from buttons with her teeth, inquiring with a finger in the band if it dug into
the waist. Or kneeled against her client and pulled a hem down to a calf to cool a husband’s collar.
I can see this in my sleep, among notions. My bed was inches from the sewing machine, a dress on
the chair weeping its luminescent frays. Sleep was the sound of insinuation, a zigzag to keep holes
receptive. Or awakened by a backstitch balling under the foot. A needle cracking? Blood on a white
suit? When my baby’s asleep I write to no one and cannot expect a response. The fit’s poor, always.
No one wears it out the door. But fashions continue to fly out of magazines like girls out of windows.
Sure, they are my sisters. Their machines, my own. The office from which I wave to them in their
descent has uneven curtains, made with my own pink and fragile hands.