top of page

Death in a Foreigner's Tongue


Initially published in the Ice Lolly Review

I. Él sana a los que tienen el corazón roto y venda sus heridas

(Psalm 147: 3)

Their locutions flit over my head, like a murder of crows

fleeing a foggy sunrise in the east. Mother told me to smile

and nod, to force puddles of sunlight into my gingerbread eyes. Monochrome people

hover on tiled floors, fingers fumbling against sterling silver wrists. I study the way

their fingernails catch on dull moissanite rings, handed to them by the papaya brushed

remnants of their ancestors. I wonder if they were baptized in the murky water

of chipped bathtubs. Father raised me to be a good Roman Catholic, to hold hands with

the boy that smelled like gasoline during Communion, to hold back

bile as I kissed him during the wedding. Fragmented light dips into concave chests,

nestling against floral perfume. I peer at the wilted flowers sighing against stiff walls

asters, bluebells, and carnations

in a deadened glory that clings to life like ticks burrowed in a mangy dog.

II. Mi carne y mi corazón pueden desfallecer, pero Dios es la fuerza de mi corazón y mi porción para siempre.

(Psalm 73:26)

Mascara smudges transform into abstract paintings on tear-stained cheeks, birthing a

child to waltz across anguish-stricken skin. She leaps from

freckle to freckle, wobbling on tippy-toes painted with matte aegean polish. I

swipe my thumb across her face, watching her dissipate beneath my

fingertip. Caskets of walnut wood

conjugate in a silent vigil. Within my mind’s eye, I can clearly

picture the dead conversing with each other in hushed whispers. “Did

you believe their lies too?,” the elders would ask. Undecayed

jaws sighed, “Yes, they told the same stories.” Phantom

hands caressed my jaw, gliding beneath my mandible and tilting

it upwards and towards firmaments of an unforgiving and

disquieting god. Oh, how I covet to join Him.

III. Jesús le dijo: “Yo soy la resurrección y la vida."

(John 11:25-26)

Hearts of sanguine blood strain against suffocating ribs; pomegranate veins

strain against sweaty palms as they shove roses against brass handles. The

clicking of heels decrescendos and crescendos as they deposit

their flowers and scurry back. One steps, two steps, three steps,

I am pulled forward by the roots of my hair. I stand before him and his stale

air. Should I feel remorse? Should I pray for his day of heavenly

resurrection? Reluctant hymns drip from chapped

lips, the same lips that so greedily drank prayers from their mother’s teat.

I am an intruder within

these people, an imposter coated in vermillion lipstick. I kiss the top of his

forehead, dusting brunette hair away from his pasty, rubbery skin. He still smells like gasoline.

Isabella is a high school student attending school in South Florida. She often writes poetry examining aspects of humanity and enjoys drawing on past unique experiences. Additionally, her identity as a Cuban- American heavily influences her writing.

bottom of page