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Poetry

Natalie Marino

Natalie Marino is an essayist, poet, and physician. Her work appears in Bitter Oleander, EcoTheo Review, Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Midway Journal, Moria Online, Oyez Review, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist in Sweet’s 2021 poetry contest. She lives in California with her husband and two daughters.

Not a Synonym for Spanish

Mexican is the light of a lemon sky
cooked into dinner in November
and watching a thousand monarchs
come home, the steam from the street
of a rising waterfall when the summer
rains sex in Obregón, looking out
the window at the snow in a small
mountain mining town filled
with Americans who never once
tried to roll out tortillas into flat moons,
an ode to the Aztec Talking Eagle,
Cuauhtlatoatzin, the retelling of his story
when he was visited by Mary
who turned his tilma into a painting of roses,
my maternal grandmother dyeing her hair
strawberry blonde and still walking out
of a restaurant in Texas that won’t serve her,
my listening in elementary school to how
lazy spics are and pretending not to hear,
my telling an English teacher
in junior high school that my skin is dark
because of my half-Italian side.
Mexican is my secret in adolescence,
and then breathing in the sea
on the California coast
on a clear black night,
wearing my mother’s bright
red shawl just after she dies,
sitting at a billowing bonfire
and following the smoke’s song
join her star in the sky.

Joy Ride in Box Canyon

Before the lake disappeared,

before we knew
we should wear
seatbelts,

before we looked
for speed limit signs,

before the fall sang out
its sour midnight whiskey
notes that we weren’t the same,

before we weren’t the same,

we sat loose and laughed
under a summer tangerine
sun, in the back of a sparkle
blue Ford pickup
with its chipped paint
shining in the early twilight
on a gravel road by bright
strawberry fields.
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