Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Our Secret Society and Other Poems – Lorena Parker Matejowsky

Jun 26, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Our Secret Society

The language we spoke
was carved by blue, red
and black Bic pens
into college-lined notebooks.
The most important
messages were looped-
long L’s and low P’s.
Some filled the narrow rows
with fat letters and others
hen pecked short, urgent
messages at awkward angles.
We took the papers
and tucked and tapered
them so they became
puckered into four points.
All of us leaned our heads
down to look close when
one oracled open and told
us who to choose: David,
Michael, Tim, Derrick.
Another way to fold it
was as an arrow, so when
our language left the page
it pointed where to land.
One of us thought
to save this evidence.
She stacked the spiraled
scrolls we studied inside
a fragile cardboard box
marked Keds. Years passed.
We lost the language.
We forgot pens, papers,
rainbowed postal sets with
matching wax and red seal.
We learned to hold our mouths
like mothers and low,
muffled music came out.
It took hours to interpret
new fonts the marketing men
made over invisible air. The
old, slow words belonged in the
buried box. Opened only once
a decade, inside quiet closets
where our other names
could be occasionally arrowed
to a known place. Carefully unfolded,
And uttered again, and again.


The Way To Be A Bride

Write your future new last names 137 times in the margins
of a Texas history book. Return it on the last day
of school and drink a wine cooler while standing
on your head at home. We recommend buying Bride
magazine in months starting with an A. Collect one
bluebonnet, seven Caddo pecan shells, as many catawba
blooms as fit in two fists, and press them between
the pages. Remove after one month and mail in a stamped
envelope to Princess Diana c/o Kensington Palace.
If that does not work, purchase Butterick pattern 4765
and 4-7/8 yards of polyester tulle. Incorporate
the remnants of a plaid prairie shirting into four rows
of ruffles. When the varsity football team wins with a score
of 25-6, put it on and sleep alone in a cow pasture
with only your outfit as armor. Finally, collect hair
from two total bitches, enough for a small French braid.
Stick it in your left polished penny loafer for six weeks,
after which it must be buried on Bolivar Peninsula
during low tide. When the tarred water comes to cover it,
think about your future husband for fifteen minutes
while reciting Psalm 143 Verse 8 from the Bible.
He is out there. Beyond the Bay’s big derricks. Your day
is coming. Always keep this urgent information inside.


friday night videos


five days every week we lacquered ourselves for others. our good girls’ heads holding heavy hot rollers, spinning thin curling irons, spraying sticky hairs in perfect places. heating each other up so boys we saw getting gas might turn and meet our great lashes. we drove home slow on friday night after games until the song was over, undone from pleated pants and porched ourselves at lengths on the close couches. we would drape ourselves in orange crocheted grannie afghans, our skinny fingers pulling cats back and forth to warm the places between our legs. we were trebled, blue-eyeing the small color television on top of the singer cabinet with blank birthday cards collected in its carved narrow drawers. we would not get up and change the channel. we had to mirror each week with its music. watch all the way through and imprint everything – guest host, countdown, corona, keyboard, face powder, three-inch heel. we worked so hard in the sunlight all week to be beautiful, obsessed. now we draped our narrow necks over throw pillows picked from a penney’s sale. how soft we were then, when a different city was plugged in on the porch and the old pecan trees orchared outside placed their black shadows over our legs. we do not yet know who will roll his tongue around our teeth next week, what part of texas we will run furthest from, the boss who will laugh about us in the board room. we have years and years before discovering the finger down our throat, the unwanted email, the knowledge that we can twist the white bra backward around our narrow torso and take it off so much easier the wrong way.

Lorena Parker Matejowsky is a resident of Central Florida but spent her first thirty years in Texas. Her poetry was selected for the 2018 AWP Intro Journal Prize and Best New Poets 2018 anthology.   She is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at University of Central Florida. Occasionally shares creative work and photos of swamps on Instagram @LoriePM 


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