Cristina J. Baptista
Listen to the poem below.
Everything is transmutable in this light.
I am the only daughter of an only daughter of an only daughter—
and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to mean anything,
or if being anything at all
brings me any closer
to knowing who I am.
I learned a language of fingers and breaths:
takings, offerings, and bitings.
Mine is a world of huffing over letters first thing in the morning,
too busy to turn up the heat.
I fill no cup of desires,
either of porcelain or hands:
I prefer boxes and the mysteries they hoard
and how sphinxes can puzzle over them for years
without exposing a clue.
And I confess—I like to make things difficult;
my fate is all upward-stones and pecked-livers.
Everyone keeps her eye on the prize, sure;
but I know when to fire my arrows.
What is my mind trying to tell me when I go to write
“within” and my hand’s betrayal spins
I will never want to know—that is not who I am.
I am that thing that happens when no one’s looking.
In the right light, everyone can be something else.
Cristina J. Baptista is a Portuguese-American poet, writer, educator, and bibliophile. Her work has appeared in DASH Literary Journal; The Cortland Review; CURA; The Santa Claus Project Anthology; and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Fordham University and currently teaches American Literature at a private school in Connecticut.