Poetry Spotlight #34: Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Poetry Spotlight #34: Marisa Silva-Dunbar

One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that center on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. This time, we focus on the work of writer Marisa Silva-Dunbar.

Marisa’s work has been published in The Ginger Collect, Barren Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Sixfold, Constellate Literary Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Awkward Mermaid, Spider Mirror Journal, Mojave He[art] Review, Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, Poetry WTF?!, Better than Starbucks Magazine, Redheaded Stepchild, Words Dance Magazine and Gargoyle Magazine. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry and has been shortlisted twice for the Eyewear Publishing Fortnight Poetry Prize. Marisa is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic. She is the founder of Neon Mariposa Magazine. She has work forthcoming in  Amaryllis, Pussy Magic, Angelical Ravings, Midnight-lane Boutique, and The Same. 

 

 

Before Summer, 2006

 

In spring, the vines started winding their way up
the cement bricks in the village, cinched out
stray branches, made a curtain over my window.
I’d walk along the gravel path and head to town,
avoiding another night in the stuffy kitchen.
I tried not to think of how things were coming apart.

During the winter, we clung together—rarely apart,
doing our eyeliner in your room before heading up
to the pub. We needed more than just dinner in the kitchen,
and the bustle, boys, and music made it feel like a night out.
But we longed for the Portuguese restaurant or a cafe in town,
where we could build fry-cabins and people-watch out the window.

When you went home for break, I waved to you from the bus window,
before leaving the station. A week was too long to be apart.
My stack of books kept me company while you were out of town,
I wandered around campus, spent afternoons at the lake, stayed up
late in the library. You sent pictures of you glammed for evenings out
with your friends, while I nestled with mythology in the kitchen.

Your first night back, we stayed in the kitchen,
cooked the chicken too long in curry—we needed to open a window
in the middle of winter to let the savory steam out.
We laughed, danced around—felt like we were a part
of something more, but this was just the up
swing. Soon I was finding ways to avoid you by going into town.

Early March, you were obsessed with the clubs in town,
hoping to find someone you could play wife to in the kitchen.
You were still into that boy you went home with in November, but he was up
to no good—you watched him kiss another girl through the window.
With men on the brain, short skirts and giggle talk were now a part
of your routine—a flirt monster. I checked out.

It was easy to find another friend who would go out
on the hunt, to all the trendy bars with long lines in town.
A man’d wink, you’d bat your eyelashes—find chance to be a part
of someone just for the night. I wasn’t at home waiting in the kitchen.
In passing we’d try to ease into our old banter, but we were just windows
to each other, strangers who had already given up.

I think about how things fell apart, and those nights in the kitchen.
I wonder about the places you go out, the windows you where watch
the town pass by. I hope one day you’ll pick up the phone and call

 

 

 

 

Discord left me after Valentine’s Day

 

After months together, I no longer gave offerings—
I threw out the spoiled food of family squabbles

She noticed I didn’t try to collect her scorpion venom
tears to mix in tea, or hold the electric liquid on my tongue
as it swam to the back of my throat. I stopped swallowing
the bitter cakes we made on Sunday mornings.
I didn’t hold her hand as we wandered through the empty
valleys in the night.  I didn’t ask her stay in the warmth of my bed.

I opened the windows, invited in the coppery moon.
I shook out the sticking pins from my sheets, made fresh linen
out of sage and iris petals—pillows out of lily pads. I drank tonics
of jasmine nectar and sliced oranges that were like the sun.
I drew a saltwater bath, let my dark hair fan into bubbles.

I was becoming Yemaya, a naked mermaid wriggling away
from her gaze. She caught me one night dancing to the beat
of ocean drums—pearls bouncing on stretched seaweed.
I carried the sirens’ call in my lungs, made human bones from sea foam.
She tried pushing me sideways like a crab, I snapped back, slicing her icy hand.
She felt the heat sighing through my veins, heard the sparks jumping from my skin,
saw the constellations I created when I closed my eyes.

 

 

 

Sister/Traitor

 

At one time they might’ve called you sister.
You seemed the type they could get tangled
in conversations with, share tea and a dosa;
they’d shuffle tarot cards for you.
You were a person they could wander
the streets of London with, huddle together
to share a secret on the tube before running
into the night filled with neon.

You were the kind to bury your feet in the hot sand of Oahu,
eating Thai food on the beach, drinking cold water from delicately
carved tin cups as condensation dripped through your fingers.
After dinner they’d place a plumeria blossom
in the palm of your hand, because you’d try your best
not to crush it.

But you’ve sold them out for a ̶m̶a̶n̶ who speaks
in keyrings, doesn’t want a woman who can spit flames,
(or who looks like a grown woman). You helped keep
them on the edge of exhaustion, famished—hollow.
You promised a safe-home of sisterhood,
but burned their flesh all for ̶h̶i̶s̶ glory,
Because it makes ̶h̶i̶m̶ need you,
Because you think only ̶h̶e̶ can give you
A purpose.
You are

                                                     the deserter

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