Erstling

Death is a beige Mercedes sedan.

I am five and riding
In the back,

Eating small white chocolates,
My long, thin body

Along the butter-
Soft red leather seat.

What I want is to become

What I was
Before the accident.

You think
I’m a rumor.

I move from one world
To the next

Living inside a mink
Lined winter,

           God’s child-
           Like voice

           Singing quietly
           Inside me.

More by Cynthia Cruz

Final Performance

I crawl along the wet floor
Of my mother's childhood,

A serpent, or a long-buried secret,
In my mother's bisque
Chiffon gown with small stars

Stitched in silver, a crown
Of tinsel pinned into the dark
Blonde knots and dreads of my hair.

I follow a sequin thread of dead
Things, stop when the moon clocks out,
Polish my long nails in the sun.

Hotel Berlin

In the rooms of a rundown palace
You said, Ruined. You said, Princess.

You said nothing to me
For three long weeks.

The color of that room
Is eel-black.

When I was a girl and still
German, I stood alone

At the end of the sea.
You may have loved me then

I sent a message through the cages
Of a great whale’s teeth.

For three weeks, I did not sleep.
I set jars of sweet milk and baskets

Of bright berries and red
Marmalade outside your door

In the dream
Where you come to me

I kiss your mouth
Tasting the secret

Letters of your history.
I swear

Somewhere in Siberia
A godly ocean of bison

Still roam free.
You, kneeling before me,

In this,
The last and final room.

Guidebooks for the Dead

Mother’s crimson leather bags
Crammed with saint cards
And tiny glass bottles of liquor.

The bright stitch
Of God’s final coming.

Dirt and dregs, silt and stars.

The sweet song
Of poverty

Rinsing through me
Like the memory
Of a dream.