ORACLE

When the corn refuses its own echo,

                            and the rivers

want to be honest about depressed mothers,

the bones refuse to speak in any language.

Once I opened my mouth

                                                and a storm of crows rushed in.

I wanted to save a piece of my mother’s hair as proof

                                            that she once lived,

but her scorched hair      fell apart in my hands.

Even the corn

                                        knows this.

My mother believed in the sermons of boats. One time,

she extended her arms to hug the river, but

                                        she only heard the foghorns behind her.

The crows love fire, love the alphabet in sad hearts.

The lilacs have learned to avoid fire

                                        especially when the river calls in its crows,

when the night’s cup fills with ash.

Eva Skrande grew up in Cuba and Miami, Florida. She is the author of Bone Argot (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019) and My Mother’s Cuba (River City Publishing, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Agni, Clockwise Cat, SurVision, Visions International, Anatolios Magazine, 8 Poems, and the bilingual magazine Alternative Publications, among others. She has received fellowships from the University of Houston, the Inprint Foundation, and the Houston Arts Alliance. She has taught for Writers in the Schools, the University of Houston, and Houston Community College. She currently teaches Creative Writing and lives in Houston with her husband and daughter.