Waiting on Forty-Five (A Ghazal)

By MIRA ROSENTHAL

 

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!

 

[Purchase Issue 19 here.] 

 

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.

Waiting on Forty-Five (A Ghazal)

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