Deathscape Lullaby

Broken crimson
Mercedes sedan.

Cotton-wood, milk-weed.
The taste of cold metal

and the repetition of three AM
sirening ambulance rides.

Yellow cream, three-tiered
birthday cake.

Cherry lip balm.

Pale blue satin shorts
and matching jacket

with my name embroidered
in hot pink, Cindy.

Poochie, my childhood
beagle, whimpering inside
the locked rooms

of night. A field of black and white
dappled ponies. Blinding,
the silence.

An orange plastic
lighter, and red
gas station

of kerosene.


Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Cruz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 9, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“With this poem I wanted to convey trauma, which is to say, I wanted to convey the way in which memory, when it is intercepted by trauma (and shock), fractures. To paraphrase Freud, when we encounter trauma it results in shock because the traumatic event is too much for the psyche; the trauma is repressed in the unconscious. What we have, then, after a trauma, are the fragments of memory which appear, most usually, as images. This is not unlike the trace of dream we encounter when we awaken: most of the dream memory is gone when we wake, all we have left are a few images or even, at times, just the affect without any images; a visceral sense untranslatable into image or language. In essence, this is what I was aiming for with this poem.”
Cynthia Cruz