Issue No. 3 || CURRENCY
Three Poems by Diannely Antigua
DIARY ENTRY #10: I WAS NEARLY PERFECT ONCE
before I killed the person I couldn’t love. I still see her
shadow. I still use her toilet to vomit what’s left
of the latest Taco Bell binge. You know the world
doesn’t stop if you undress. If you undress
all the white boys will still smell the same
when they unshelter you. So I place my cleanliness next
to my evil, so I create a disorder of repetition and protruding
ribs. Without our help, the brain knows what to do—
the migrating birds become black pepper to the sky and the bruised
thigh becomes just another accident. This year
I light a candle on Sylvia’s birthday, pretend
to eat the cake, my appetite for a knife on my wrist only a tease
until it’s not. Until it’s not cake but the earth
and the body I shove into it.
That’s how I’d remember the turn
to get to the highway—at the bottom
of Hill Road, there used to be a yellow church
with a matching yellow Volkswagen bug parked outside.
The steeple was my breadcrumb, until
the church was renovated into riverfront lofts, the yellow
painted red, the Volkswagen—gone, too.
I used to compare the fallen leaves on that winding
drive to those prostrated in reverence, until
I learned there is a whole family of prostrate
plants, with branches growing only just above
the ground, unable to ever reach the vast canopy
of trees surrounding it. I had forgotten
about the glitter made when glass shatters,
until the fresh shards stark against the black pavement
lit up a constellation. I had forgotten
about the abandoned mills across the river, and the looms,
and the girls—how could I forget the girls—
now ghosts, witnessing again the damage done
when a body meets a machine.
MY EX MEETS FOR COFFEE
When he leaves the café, my panties
are still dry. He can’t conjure
me anymore. Instead, I wet myself
with thoughts of licking
my finger in the bathroom,
of pleasure without his name. I want
to say my own name, chant it.
Are you there me, it’s
me? Which is to say I am the hand
that slapped my face in the middle of the street
that night in June, then that other night
in June. I fell to the pavement and someone
caught my arm. Maybe I am perpetually
bored—that is a disease of the mind.
I want to be the ruined woman who stays
alive. Anna Karenina jumped in front of a train,
Madame Bovary with arsenic, and me
with the same pills as last time. I want to have
an affair and not feel guilty, escape
the provincial life I’ll never live.
I might be a glutton for gluttony. I’ve been
promised a fatness, one with an inventory
of things to count—dresses and curtains
and microwave ovens, La Croix
to drown in, a pillowtop bed. I make
a Pinterest board of the good life,
touch myself to the teal green of my imagined
KitchenAid mixer. In my mind, I’m rolling
in sheets of Egyptian cotton, and I feel
a blessing from inside me release.
DIANNELY ANTIGUA is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection (YesYes Books, 2019) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and received a 2020 Whiting Award. A graduate of NYU's MFA Creative Writing Program, she is the recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Poem-a-Day, The American Poetry Review, Washington Square Review, Narrative, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere.