/nicole v basta

dear eva, dear anna, dear alfreda

dragonflies, by the hundreds, rise and fall over an emptying field like the empire
that brought us to this place. tendered by all your hovering, my mother and i learned
to read and write here in the province of glory and capital. because benevolence,
the wind rocks the flowers to give us a little soothing.

what really suits me is asleep in another country, a different set of birds lumbering
the air. i don’t mean to complain, i’ve made the best of everything or i’ve tried
to turn the green potatoes into dinner and quiet all the rushing inside.

there is a train now passing by at a distance we cannot know away. once, a lover made
a stencil of my face and would walk the tracks while i slept in search of an idling train. this is just to say somewhere what is almost me is rushing past a field.
the shape of my jaw blueing the air is almost you.


epigenetics or: seeking shelter

what time doesn’t heal is a lantern
that keeps a promise to the night
like the tale of the blackbird lost

in the forest who’s swallowed a fire-
fly and the moral of the story is not
that there is a light within us

but however this bird ends up
is what is meant to be—
and so the question must be asked

how often is simply longing
for vision mistaken for vision?
earth-tossed, grit-tone, the world out-

side sometimes bucking back our dead
the wildness of a grief beyond piercing
the stain the present makes on our mis-

conception of time and so sometimes i just
soak in the fever of what’s leftover and what
bathtub doesn’t have a bit of anna’s moon

-shine? i wrinkle into the stinging of release
dear anna, heaven’s a glass of milk, no?
a hometown that knows your tongue?

maybe it’s truest to say my own mother-
land is what kept you up at night—
wherever you are, may the light offer its hand

and in the palm of that hand, may there be hope
and in the hope, there likely will still be sorrow
but in the sorrow, like in the blackbird,

there will be a song

nicole v basta‘s poems have found homes in Ploughshares, Waxwing, Plume, Sixth Finch, Crazyhorse, Ninth Letter, etc. She is the author of the chapbook V, the winner of The New School’s Annual Contest and the chapbook the next field over, forthcoming from Tolsun Books in 2022. More at: nicolevbasta.com