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How To Be Forgotten

Briana Valdez

This is how I die

Without raspberries in my mouth

They have all been taken out

By the gravedigger whose baby girl was born this morning

Maker of my mud shroud

Maker of those pink round cheeks

Will she get sick from eating too many strawberries again?

Will she get taken to the doctor who also treats stray dogs?

And will he give her the lemon-flavored sucker?

With a scrunched nose and lips puckered

Will she be more than thigh and bone?

Will she take my crown or make her own?

Do this in memory of me

I fear not being forgotten

Because my blood is in your grape juice

I fear the extinction of robins

And the opinion that bivalves cannot feel pain

Surely an oyster has had their heart broken

She dips her sanguine feet in the wet sand

Worming her way through looking for mole crabs to wed

She asks her father, Who will love the parasite?

He replies, You’re too young for that movie.

Surely someone will, she reassures me

And this is how I live.

She Keeps Me Alive

Briana Valdez

Tell a woman of your dream and she will carry it like a child.

She will carry it like a daughter, sloped on her back against the desert’s grain

And not once let her nimble toes graze the ground.

The child will cry and ache and tire the woman

Who has never been a mother

And who has been a mother from the moment she was conceived

Her daughters the roots beneath her

Her daughters who know more than god

Know that pain does not exist

When she walks on water

Just as breathing does not exist

As they feast on her body

Until you remind yourself

That her body is bread

And suddenly forget

That you’re still breathing

And pain is just reaction.

The last thing a mother will do is let her child forget a finger’s breath.

The mother will remind her always

Of grandmother trees, of seas, of strawflowers, and of beads of morning dew

That trickle down her tongue

Her mother, her grandmother’s tongue

Landing in some pocket of her boundless belly.

The mother will remind her always

The power in hunger

And not the cruelty of famine.

Tell a man of your dream and he will laugh.

He will slip it in his jeans and run away

As daughters are stolen every day.

Briana is a writer and dance educator based in New Jersey. She received her English BA from New York University and now works as a Teaching Artist Apprentice with the New York City Ballet. Her work has been previously published in Primadonna, and currently serves as a prose editor for Sunhouse Literary and poetry reader for Only Poems.
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