She sailed to India in a paper boat, entering
the mouth of the Ganges with burned palms,
a lifeline the length of a cherry bomb fuse.
It was expected-- like the burp of a baby, like
the inevitable coming of spring, like the molting
of snake skin--that the river would spit her out
somewhere along a burnt-sienna, croc-infested
bank. All the tea in India was infused with sassy
spices, which burned her soul, quarantined her tongue
inside an ancient glass jar. She got it stuck more than
once. Silicon dioxide must have an afterlife.
Skinny kids with fish-bone ribs, pushed her
back into water. The brick in her back pocket
from Janis Joplin’s house somewhere in Texas
pulled her down into mud and bottom-dwellers;
almost drowned seven times.
She had lost her alphabet and night vision while
finding herself in the Punjab. Nothing was the same.
It hardly ever is. Shadows ate her heartbeat while
hot rocks dissolved the skin on her soles.
More was never enough. A film of dust settled
on her hungry coffin long before she finished
flying past her own history. With one red brick
to her name, Kissie Descalpo climbed onto a bed
of coals and shut her eyes forever.
John Dorroh likes to travel and write and cook things. He plays with words and digs in the dirt, turning the soil to see what he can find. He taught science for a long time and now he shares with other teachers how he used writing strategies to help young learners make sense of the natural world.
His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Feral, Dime Show Review, Ospressan, North Dakota Quarterly, Dead Mule Society, Red Fez and Selcouth Station.