Sonnet on Swallowing
1. I was crawling through your window.
2. My grandmother, now a tender red, gulps
down a scattering of vegetables as I peer at her, wide-
eyed, through small tears in a corn husk.
3. Together, we swayed through the rain, listening to small comets
of cloudburst shatter
against themselves. I watched her like she was an old movie, melting.
4. My eyes had been redacted by the sunlight tiptoeing through the blinds
in your old bedroom.
O, how we glistened
on the hardwood, my back an arc
small enough for only your hand
to fit under. O, how I miss your clamber.
5. The waves, her ashes, a timeless cliché. Is it too cruel
to kiss you on this beach? To love you
for all of her beauty?
6. Carried ashore by a procession of water, a whale lies comfortably
dead on sand warmer than its body. We cut it to see
what it has become. We shine a light into the cave
of its stomach to find what we have buried.
7. Unsurprisingly, I, too, long to be swallowed.
8. Unflinchingly, I, too, offer to be opened.
9. Not swallowing, it seems, is a type of swallowing.
10. Do not do with that knife what you are going to do.
You will see that even when opened I have nothing
to hide, that I have eaten everything that I have eaten
11. It needs a burial, the great dead & large thing. Its fins, useless
as hands on an old lover, thud against the damp clumps
of stained white sand. How do you return to ash
that which, when set gently ablaze, will explode
with all the oil it drank & all the fat it once held?
12. Are the ashes of my grandmother immune to all the wreckage I have left
in the water? Are they at least defended?
13. Is drowning more than just a swallowing? Or is it an ignorance
of all the air we refuse to breathe? How loudly we pant,
like a storm through a wind chime.
14. I was falling through the window,
my face marred by small pieces of the sky.
Woman, I left the door ajar.
All you had to do was not make any noise.
Bailey Cohen is a queer Ecuadorian-American poet studying English and Politics at New York University. A finalist for the 2018 Boulevard Contest for Emerging Poets and the runner-up for the 2018 RR Laux / Millar Prize, he serves as a contributing writer for Frontier Poetry and the editor of Alegrarse: A Journal of Close Readings. Bailey has received a Best of the Net nomination and has poems in or forthcoming from Boulevard, Raleigh Review, The Shallow Ends, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and more. He loves everyone Latinx.