by Esther Ra
Every evening before we climb into the car,
I tap the hood politely, and wait for the street cats
to leap out underneath—gray cloudbursts of mist-
matted fur, supple flash of muscle and sinew.
Even in the winter, slices of sunlight
butter the walls, caress the faceless
square windows. Last night I dreamed
about laughing with someone I missed,
the cold trickle of fear when I felt myself
stirring awake. In English class, my student
signs his letters to his mother with
—softly, your son— and I don’t attempt to
correct him. The cats are screaming
hoarsely in the night, so crazed with joy
in each other’s thin warmth, they long
for the whole world to know.
If only everything could be a little bit
softer. The snow falls soundless
in the golden light, blurring every edge
to a gently rubbed-out mistake.
Esther Ra is the author of book of untranslatable things (Grayson Books, 2018) and the founding editor of The Underwater Railroad, a literary reunification project. Her work has also been published in Boulevard, Rattle, The Rumpus, and Border Crossing, among others. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pushcart Prize and the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry. In writing, as in life, she is deeply interested in the quiet beauty of the ordinary. (www.estherhaelanra.com)
Cover Design by Karen Rile