Rachelle Cruz

First Pair

“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes,
I had one thousand and sixty.” — Imelda Marcos

When she slipped us on,
we cracked small smiles.

Straightened our slender heels,
bit the ground.

Claimed our spot nearest the closet
door where her perfume sang.

Her husband’s worn dress shirts
crumpled in a corner, cooling.

We’ve never met the concrete dives,
skidded across rubble, or polluted

rivers. No sand left behind
in the grooves where we remember her.

Instead, we sank into the start of myth,
stretched to the form of her filed feet.

We’ll sing our emerald beauty,
try to forgive the chorus of slap-

slapping around us, rubber slippers
drowning out our staccato, our

foreign tongues beating out an island
of our own.

Band-Aid Yourself into a Better World

Find yourself a telephone booth
Then tell everyone you’re making your face
Wave a pad of blotting papers from your aging hand
Blurt something about your mother’s Suzanne Somers
Then skip singing En Vogue pretending salon perms
and avocado scrubs

When you’re indeed alone
or in the Lorac aisle of Sephora
inhale the small bed of wounds
a dog’s earthy fur
a screech from the screen door interrupting
a quiet day
and now it’s even harder to breathe

The time you watched the neighbor boy
drown a broken-beaked bird
in the shallow gutter
And you thought
you can’t save anyone
but yourself
But even then
the branches scratched something shriller

Rachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California. She is the author of the chapbook, Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Bone Bouquet, PANK Magazine, Muzzle Magazine, Splinter Generation, KCET’s Departures Series, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among others. She hosts The Blood-Jet Writing Hour on Blog Talk Radio. She is an Emerging Voices Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow and a VONA writer living and writing in Southern California.