Brass City by Tiana M. Reynolds

Once upon a time, I dreamt of sirens bruising the morning sky
over coffee. There was no relief in the shadows of the buildings,
sticky hot fingers reaching across the sea, crawling out of the
waves to cast themselves heavy over the fishermen, the beach
while I poured a second cup from the pan. The kitchen smelled
of breakfast and powdered soap. If I was lucky, he wouldn’t
come home that night. Brick by brick, the skyway shrinking
but the sun blotted out my name years ago, and I doubted
a few bricks could give it back. The day I arrived here
I asked why there were so many, why the mortar and stone
trundled down the sidewalk, snuck through the alley, crept
up the apartments to peek through our windows. What did
they care what happened behind closed doors, where my
skin turned the green of an unripe mango when he drank.
I swirled the grounds in the bottom of my cup, imagining
those women I had heard about in other corners of the city
the ones who could read your fortune in the dregs. I stared
hard, asked Jesus to forgive me as I looked for myself. That
was when it happened, the phone clambering for attention
against the thickness of the mounting day. Yes, No. Oh. Yes.
I dumped my fortune into the plants below the window. Thin
and untended, they would need it more than I did now. There
would be phone calls to make, but the children would be back
for lunch soon, and the food wouldn’t cook itself. Maybe further
north, where my brother lived. The onions hissed as they hit the
oil, my favorite sound in the world. something raw . . . becoming. 

Tiana M. Reynolds is an American poet currently residing in Zambia. She has lived on four continents, has three children, two French presses, a husband, and a dog. Her poetry has been featured on The “LKMNDS Podcast” and in Olney Magazine.