Amy M Alvarez


A room with deep blue carpet, mostly
empty. We were moving, leaving this house
for another. I played with a red balloon
and could hear my parents and aunt
screaming downstairs. I know this
shouting is and is not about me.

When I appear at the top of the stairs,
I am told to go back to the empty room.
instead, I sit with my back pressed
to the wall, owl-swiveled at the bannister,
to listen.

My father wants me to stay overnight
with him and his new girlfriend, her
two kids close to my age. I like the older
girl especially—she is tall, cool, and can
color inside the lines.

My mother is afraid I will not return.
My father wants more than an eight
hour visit. I am, then, their only child.
My aunt does not like my father, does
not like anyone, but feels compelled
to take her sister’s side.

They fight by the front door. Bright
light frames their faces--my mother’s
weeping face, my aunt’s tightlipped
face, my father’s face shadowed by
his wildly gesticulating hands, and in
this light, this quarrel over my body
as I peer from the top of the staircase,
listening to the shouts that might mean
we love you.



Come, Holy Skin, Bring Your Voices

Memories circle: a crown

of wild thrushes, the blur of their heart
pump, wings like nimbus clouds.

I am trying to resemble my family:

each a shade of Jupiter’s swirl,
one of us is always the storm.

We were born with obeah on our backs
and orisha traverse our dreams.

Purposeful pantheons—trinities to dozens
-playing demi-deities—bud from our brows.

Let survivor’s bones grow fat with sweet

Let me honey up the fire lilies

We are fragmented here
colonization dicing
some more finely than others

The land, virus-quiet, heart-valve
loud, made for you and me.
Forced to dance in scarcity,

I eat what you eat:
stringy mango of absence.

Sirius came to the Egyptians before flood
Survival: finding blossoms buried in mud



Amy M. Alvarez is a Black Latinx poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, River Styx, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere. She has won fellowships from CantoMundo, VONA, Macondo, and VCCA. Originally from Queens, New York, Amy lives and teaches in Morgantown, WV.