Dana Alsamsam

Chrysalism

I step into my mother’s side of the closet     now empty
save a lace prom dress hung on wire     still white in defiance
of time     for me to walk into when I was ready     like staying
inside during a thunderstorm     an amniotic tranquility
like I never left her belly     like it only rained outside
the black holes of windows     outside the protective swaths
of hand-knit blankets     not here     in our identical cups of tea
The closet air thickens as I grow into myself     find the membrane
of the word woman to be more expansive     I put on the cold skin
The dress doesn’t fit across the hips     doesn’t flatter
my shoulders     my penny hair     reaches too far past my feet
I hack the sleeves off with scissors     tear through lace
to expose knees     dye the fabric black to show girl can be girl
but also bits of breaking free

Mother’s Day

It’s been months & still
I search for you in our regular
genetics of absence, in garbage
bags filled with your clothing
left behind—three wrinkled
wind breakers clutching tight
to the aroma of Minnesota,
of tilting hills and lines of heather
bowing to the lake. I could see
across it even with blooming
girlchild eyes. Mother,
you’re too far away now
to see me. I fold & smooth,
repairing myself, in a living room
where couches carry your scent—
lilac & quince in the clutch
of knit—two miniskirts so short
my white thighs gleam
to their shining peaks. My body
is contained by more skin
than I was taught to inhabit.
You allowed lines of men
to swallow you, these dresses
of indifference hanging limp
on bone-near flesh. I can’t
find you here. Shirt after skirt,
my fabric is loosening, breathing
out in bits as these bags deflate.
I tremble. I fathom.
You were always gone
before you left— last—
one wedding dress, outside in—
a molted skin, hollowing.

Dana Alsamsam is the author of a chapbook, (in)habit (tenderness lit, 2018), and her poems are published or forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, The Massachusetts Review, North American Review, Gigantic Sequins, Tinderbox Poetry, The Boiler Journal, Salamander, BOOTH and others. Her work has been supported by a fellowship from Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. A Chicago native, Dana is currently an MFA candidate and a teacher at Emerson College.

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