An Archeology of Hurt

Everything starts the same:
a pit, a pike, the parting touch,
the pruned fingertips,
the grime of inchoate land
seen from a boat,
swarms of mosquitoes
nestled between the thick
of cypress trees.
Pain arrives at dusk with the low tide,
and I’m coming back to it
like a fish learning to love
the brackish water.
I know what it’s like to sit
in mud silence.
On Pawley Island, the dead
lay asleep. No one knows
what pain they remember
because no one knows
where to listen.
I’m here to learn their names.
My mouth is here to fill with history.


ode to a bell pepper

it’s amazing how there’s a stream of color
es asombroso cómo hay una corriente de color
running through you, warped like time
in this pandemic, around the beveled bell,
deformado como el tiempo en esta pandemia
and hollow like a refugee’s pockets
hueco como los bolsillos de un refugiado
the world around you and your brother
handselled with some moments of intimate touch,
algunos momentos de toque íntimo.
we have forgotten how to bite into flesh,
hemos olvidado como morder la carne,
we have forgotten how to season and spice,
hemos olvidado como condimentar,
once upon a time, in a village,
with cinnamon and jicama,
con canela y jicama,
how you, the sweetest most bitter
sun casting your rays of unpolished copper,
how you can bring me to tears
when i taste my mother’s gentle touch
pruebo el toque suave de mi madre,
lighting up my torn world,
iluminando mi mundo desgarrado.


ode to hunger

this poem is an appetizer,
as savory on the tongue as zacuscă,
this poem is like watermelon and feta
brightened by a single sprig of mint
from a garden in my other country,
where everything kept growing
despite the personal distance,
like in a bed where sleep is sweating miracles:
I want to taste that which fits on my plate:
what is sweet: what is risen:
my baby’s milk-sour breath:
what my body has enough of:            but not everyone
is made of the same hunger:
here in Oklahoma, my kitchen bulbs blister
with light despite the ice storm:
I stay put:        I hunger for the round
world across the pandemic


A Romanian immigrant to the US, Roxana Cazan is the author of two poetry books The Accident of Birth (Main Street Rag, 2017) and Tethered to the Unexpected (forthcoming 2022) and co-editor of Voices on the Move: An Anthology by and about Refugees (Solis Press, 2020). Her poems have been featured in Poets Reading the News, Connecticut River Review, Construction Magazine, Cold Creek Review, and others. She lives in Oklahoma City, OK, USA.