Lis Sanchez has writing appearing or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Salamander, New Orleans Review, Harvard Review Online, The Bark, Puerto Del Sol, Lunch Ticket Amuse-Bouche, The Boiler, Journal of Wild Culture, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Writer’s Fellowship; Prairie Schooner’s Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing; Nimrod’s Editors’ Choice Award; The Greensboro Review Award for Fiction, and others.
This cherry tree has uncupped its blossoms too soon
I’ve never viewed limbs so bowed
tonight’s torrents could obliterate them
Branches rock petals clutch
Hunched in a coverlet
I'll stay on the porch till sunup
Is it foolish to believe
that by seeing them through the cruelest
spasms of the storm
I'll be given some say
My father frowns out his nursing home window—
he can't pluck the lodestar from the constellation
the shuddering industrial silos
he calls City of Woes.
I trim his beard;
he jerks back, studies me: You’re late, Kid.
I brush away
the clippings that lie clustered
on his collarbones like white inflorescences.
Lis, I remind. I’m Lis.
Shift’s end, the nurse plods in,
replaces the paper diaper,
snugs the blanket, closes the blind
against the approaching winds.
Ashamed, he thanks her. He's sorry
he kept her so deep into the night,
far from her daughters, whose names he articulates.
Later, his hands
covering my own, his voice wavering:
this night the storm behind us I want for you to see
beyond the soot and the city’s greasy lights
I want the stars to bloom for you
in the deepest particles of your skin
let them gather your breath
into a luminous bouquet
but this night —
I can’t make you see me forever
My father read hungrily. He loved to color his conversation with literary orts, so much so that we kids seldom knew whether what he said was original or stolen. In this piece, 'City of Woes' comes from Dante's Inferno, and 'Cordelia' refers to Lear's daughter in Shakespeare's King Lear.