Sandra Salinas Newton


Wasn’t it enough that you rode the cusp of my adulthood
To twist and mold me into what you thought I should be?
I recorded every moment of those years
As if I were nothing more than a machine
Made to preserve the cunning history you created
Even as I lived it. Dreams of smoke and shadow
That refused to be contained
Yet inhaled and ingested:
A poison of love.

Books and cigarettes and conversations
To dawn and more
Always pretending I was other than
An outer-borough kid raised behind the windows
That looked out on insidious dead ends
And the lives of the lost.
There was a father too meek to love
And a mother spewing regret and ice
So your love was the blanket
Swathing me almost-drowned
Its heavy comfort sucking up
The floodwaters of hurt and pain
To leave me finally secure.

Your body wrapped around mine
Like the sun finding grass to nourish
Your hands exploring confidently
The skin and flesh and muscle that none before
Had dared to arouse with such delight
Your mouth on mine, our coupling
The polished parts of a single machine
Grinding so smoothly
Produced a bright gem of sensation.

It ended as naturally as it began:
A day ending in sunset

A calendar turning to a new year
A life following another path
Until now.

Now, you take the peace of my old age
Because I want to see in the mirror
Who I was to you:
A lithe, desired body
An innocent laugh
Sparkling eyes

But all that is gone with you
Carried away to dust
Leaving only
This ailing body of
Creped skin and squinting eyes
A mind that imagines
You might still like to touch me
Wrap us together
Smile with contentment.
This I see
Only in my dreams.

© Sandra Salinas Newton

Sandra Salinas Newton is a Filipina-American professor emeritus of English. Her published works include introductory texts, fiction, and arts reviews. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Apricity MagazineBrushfire, CerasusDecadent ReviewEkphrastic ReviewExchangesEtched OnyxEvening Street ReviewFauxmoirHawaii Pacific ReviewLibrary Love LetterMidwest QuarterlyMultiplicityNative SkinNeologism Poetry JournalNew Note PoetryOberon Poetry Journal 2021OPEN: Journal of Arts and Letters, and The Poeming Pigeon.

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