Back to Issue Forty-Two

The Origin of Things



Some days I think the Earth is a hole in God’s
heart. One night, a mountainsidesplit the seafloor

from the sky, like an arrow’s edge.

This has remained the case—
the constellations tethered to the trees—

the reason starfish wash up on shore.
The reason I fry plantains the way my grandmother was taught.

An owl watches the Moon watch the shape
of an owl’s eyes. I burn the recipe in the kitchen & call

for birthright in the smoke—
the way an albatross is known to trade its homeland for the sea

(this is before they learn
water is only a starving mouth).

The origin of things:the waves—

caught reaching through the mesh of the ocean’s weaving.
That the net would look down upon the fish & ask

why they remain so still.






Despite the heat, I walk
to your apartment at 2 a.m. At the door,
I cuff my shorts another inch,

and this ritual continues: bedsheets
summon skin from beneath folds and buttons;
mouths unwrap directions for worship.

God of hungry jigsaw. Hungry bulge
of pec sheathing ribs. The heave of the spine
into devout shapes and transits.

Alone, next to the stains I’ve left, I listen
to the katydids rasp. Windows open as tulips
and still the humid air clings to the wall

like a stray fly. How can anyone
survive like this? Eighty-three degrees
in late April, your sweat in my hair.

You return with a plastic bag
and tell me your ex-boyfriend confessed
another affair he’d kept a secret.

We trade stories of all the men who’ve taken
pieces of us, pull our clothes off the floor,
still wet with the effort—and I will never

see you again—and you hand me two
mini Klondike bars, and tell me, it’s okay
to eat my fill of smaller, sweeter things.



Alejandro Derieux-Cerezo is a poet from Ann Arbor, Michigan. His work has appeared in Laurel Moon, Zeniada, and elsewhere. He has been awarded a Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship in 2021 and a Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry Award in 2022 from the University of Michigan, and will begin his MFA at the University of California, Irvine this fall. In his spare time, you can find him either loitering in a parking structure or watching videos of people making slime.

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