by MarITza Mora
I hid behind my copy of Captain Underpants when their rage
walked them into the kitchen with stomping feet,
when my father raised his hand and my mother raised
la cacerola from the stove and struck; I tell her sometimes
when I see the marks they leave each other I can’t even breathe.
I am six, thirteen, eighteen, y nunca paran. They are the moon
and the stars and the sun and they cycle through their words
like eternity is just an abstract and not the loop they’re trapped in.
Her scratches land like fire in single swipes, his hands wrap
around her throat like coiled snakes and I cannot tell if they are human
or not; in the daylight my father is Huitzilopochtli, bleeding; angry,
a flurry of war demanding sacrifice. The first time my partner grabbed
me, I reacted viscerally, voice raising, the sun aching through my veins—
I tell my mother I am confused, that as the days continue to pass
I find myself reaching for something I have yet to understand,
and it is just beyond me, help me, help me understand, and as I lose
my breath in repetition of pleading, she holds my hands to her chest
to feel the butterflies that resurrect her in the moonlight,
that bring her back when lightning strikes, and she makes me breathe
with her and repeat: this is not what love is, this is not what love is;
this is not what love is. This is not what love is.
Maritza Mora is a Chico State graduate with a BA in English Literature. Hailing from East Los Angeles, Mora completed translation editing for the bilingual short-story collection “Universo Y La Lista / Universe and the List” by Laidi Fernández de Juan with Cubanabooks Press. Cubanabooks Press is a bilingual press focused on female Cuban authors. She also did fiction editing for The Watershed Review’s Fall 2015 issue and poetry editing for the Spring 2017 publication.
Art by Art Editor, Michelle Johnsen
Michelle Johnsen (art editor) is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine, EcoWatch.com, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP, weather.com, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at] gmail.com.