and then I remember the faint aching hiss of nitrous leaking from the tip of the siphon into the open mouth of me
a hit off the pressurized cream of me
in the darkened storage room round back of the restaurant of me
at twenty-one, the different sounds that rustled in me
freezer hum and thudding voices, conversation concentrate inside of me
who I used to be, was then and then and then: still me
the cook flinging fatty patties in the splattering grease of me
us waitresses returning to the till, collecting tender under the metal lever pressing me
the drawer of me
the way we hit the button, made the tray announce itself when opening, a flimsy ding: it’s me!
I lick my finger, stingy ink, how bitter dollar bills were not enough to pay for me
the way I learned to make change, count up from what was owed to me
and all the ways the world keeps track, the man who liked to watch the back of me
the darkened room in me
stacked with gallon cans of crushed tomatoes in their juice plucked from the fruit of the field of me
and walls arrayed with rows of ticking meters, valves to let off steam from some internal workings of me
a series of tiny combustions in me
and then it was me
walking out on the job to the beach, a long walk with no one but me
and the sand, when kicked, sparkled without sun or moon but simply from internal disruption, phosphorescent me
illumined in a space of motion, all the matter moving that is me
no longer there to take the orders from anyone but me
look up and see my constellation burning: ¡Mira!
Mira Rosenthal is a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner program, and her work appears regularly in such journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Guernica, Harvard Review, New England Review, and A Public Space. Her first book of poems, The Local World, received the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. Her translation of Polish poet Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies won the Northern California Book Award and was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Her honors include a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Award, an American Council of Learned Societies grant, and residencies at Hedgebrook and The MacDowell Colony.