Sheila Black

Las Cruces

By the railroad tracks someone sells peaches,
and the man with the stump leg sings
about trains, though they don’t run here
anymore. I can smell the burning chiles
like a reminder – land can burn, people, too.
I sat with you in an asphalt lot with my eyes
like hawks circling. What did I know of real
distance but everything? Learning in the walks
around my neighborhood the ease with which
every possible interpretation of the past
disappears. There was a tree of green herons;
they had come there from the river,
which had vanished, and now they slaughtered
kittens and the occasional rabbit. Sometimes
they hung the meat in the trees. And they
were beautiful – the iridescent green-black
of wing, flex of curved beak, as you, too,
were beautiful like the knowledge of water
in a well, like the bell of neighboring San Isidro,
the chime peeling out and dissipating into a violet air.

The Moon Contemplates Annunciation

Not true the Moon is envious
of the Sun, though the Sun thinks she is;
kind of a relief not to have to generate
her own light, to spin in the dark,
able all at once to simply disappear
as water apparates from the hood
of a car in Summer’s ultra-heat.
She has heard his stories of light and longing
but she prefers to float in her own
ocean, face down into the stars.
Why she wears trousers that are too big,
hunches into soft gray sweatshirts
she layers despite the heat.
She was never fooled by that story
of the window, the glass breaking, the
angel with a face like her own, that terrible
voice telling her she must become.

About the Author

Sheila Black is the author of five full-length poetry collections, most recently Radium Dream (Salmon Poetry, 2022). She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, and other places. She is a co-founder of Zoeglossia, a non-profit to build community for poets with disabilities.