How To Fold A Paper Crane

by Genevieve DeGuzman

Genevieve DeGuzman is a Filipino-American writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her recent work appears in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, FOLIO, Reed Magazine, Five:2:One, Ithaca Lit, Strange Horizons, and Switchback. A finalist for the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Prize and, a finalist for the 2017 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, and a winner of the 2017 Oregon Poetry Association’s New Poets Contest, she is working on several writing projects and on perfecting her hygge.


 

1. I wish I could take it back, pick through dirt
to find the casing to put the bullet back in.
2. Reverse engineer us. Is it like
walking backwards? Or picking up
a fumbled gumdrop? Birth?
3. We both came into the world, C-sections.
4. I know those early years for you left a mark.
Not in the way wet cement hardens
around a dog’s exuberant paw print and makes you
smile to yourself to walk on its imprint, to feel how deep
the grooves go. But in the way a leaf decays
on the ground. Lift it up slowly and there’s always
5. life. We never played with each other;
I mostly watched you.
6. Fed you. Made microwaveable pizzas on altars
of cardboard trays with fingers that trembled
with the responsibility.
7. Little Mermaid came out and you wanted to be Ariel
but I called you Mowgli, the dark-skinned boy
nearly devoured by a snake.
8. I still sing the song when I smash garlic or dunk
sore carpal tunnel wrists into ice.
“Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl / The girl who has / everything.”
9. Even among siblings love builds slowly
like a gathering storm or a storm that gathers in
its sleeves like a Snuggie when you’re cold.
10. Love is baby back ribs sticky sweet. Love is looking down
into the crib to see Rosemary’s Baby.
11. We learned our lessons. Families aren’t meant to be
compressed into hard glinty glory but explored.
Not like a captain steering a ship on the high seas
but a spelunker dropping into a system of caves
basking in those echoes of angry words.
12. (What can I say here that I can’t compress
because I’ll never have enough to say to finish this poem?)
13. Even with our small shames kept locked in
with the wild rabbit I trapped inside the heating tank
closet. Did I think it would have lived through the night
when I closed the latch, the way you would keep
loving me even after?
14. (What do we need to do to pay for our mistakes?)
15. Sister, I fell in love with you.
16. I fell in love without you, too.
17. By now the cats I had with him are gone.
We plucked them together from a cage but only I
buried them in the ground. I held two of them
when the doctor stopped their hearts.
18. Sister, I wish I could go back and cry on your shoulder.
19. You left the Barbies in their boxes in the closet
and I put them in storage under the stairs, but I confess
I thought about giving them away.
20. I want memory that is bright light
coming through slatted blinds. Memory that is enough
to feed the plants but not burn them.
21. I will fold this list now. Think of origami, dear sister.
22. How we only know the precision and perfection
of clean edges. “How do you make a line
bend into a curve?” you asked.
23. Fold the wet paper and it becomes malleable
in degrees. Life is better
24. posed this way. Cry onto this paper square, dear sister,
so we might not be the crane stamped down
sharp it would cut fingers but the crane
gently folded.
25. Curving its wings. Undoing those days
with sweet sway.

 


Genevieve DeGuzman is a Filipino-American writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her recent work appears in Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, FOLIO, Reed Magazine, Five:2:One, Ithaca Lit, Strange Horizons, and Switchback. A finalist for the 2018 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Prize and, a finalist for the 2017 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, and a winner of the 2017 Oregon Poetry Association’s New Poets Contest, she is working on several writing projects and on perfecting her hygge.

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