The 2River View 21.4 (Summer 2017)

Marcela Sulak

Family Friendly River Park

Welcome! This is a family friendly river park! For your safety and the safety of the water, please observe the following regulations.  This is a family. This is friendly. See the ducklings paddling at the precipice of the dam? Do not use your empty beer bottles as weapons. Honor your father and your mother. Honor the local gods. Grow tomatoes, squash, corn, and potatoes. Do not fornicate more than you can help it. Crush some cochineal. If fornication results in the birth of a child, raise it. In order to have a family of your own, you must be asked certain questions at some point in your life. Or you must ask them. The answer must be yes, eventually.

Welcome! Welcome little vulture family with the grumpy adolescent, tail feathers scraggly in the wind. Welcome, calm mama vulture, black and sleek. Soon we will spread our wings. Soon we will comb the wind and learn the currents. Soon something will die.

Welcome! As you can see, we are friendly here. We believe in families. We are sorry if you do not have one, but maybe, god willing, one day you will, too.  Do not curse in your speech or in your tattoos. Say good morning. Say how are you. Say good afternoon. We do not hold an ounce of malice to anyone. We are very friendly, very kind.

Undo the Sky

Leave your guide
books and home, and measure instead the rate at which the bulbous
blue sky bounces it
self slowly up and down on the tightrope
of the power lines by the highway, the nuclear power
plant plunging daggers
until the trees close ranks, the rail road
scattering its ties like a child, the crop dusters buzzing all
over the sky of
fields left out in the sun too long. I
have looked to the clotheslines to see what long johns, dresses, bikini
tops and how far I’ve
come from Texas after all this time.  Now
the inevitable moment we remember Marion,
the kindly crop duster
who once folded a dollar into my
9-year-old palm for doing such a good job pacing the fields
beneath him, holding
a red flag, while Ordram fell from the tanks of the plane.
How his biplane flew 
years later into the power lines. His neck sliced like
a horizon. His head fell like a sun. How
his name, Marion, after the Mother
of God, foretold his plane would be pregnant with eternity,
he who was so swift
in death, and slow to anger in life, for
whom the idea of sky was now something else all together.

Marcela Sulak is the author of Decency and Immigrant and co-editor of Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Twenty Girls to Envy Me. The Selected Poems of Orit Gidali was longlisted for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. website

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