HomeCurrent SelectionsArchivesSubscribeLinksThe Editors
Rachel Eliza Griffiths


Through the burnt-colored clumps we staggered.
The earth its own here. Towards dusty rocks,
between the hurling rain. Your hand, like light,
kept slipping away. I tried to listen. If we could make it,
their cries could sometimes be heard, you said.
The lions and seals on wet rocks, their frequency scattered,
like time, over the sea. Your hand, like that, was endless.
I kept my head bent. Hope unfitting as memory.
No shield from going forward or going back.
We curled towards the heat of our bodies instead.
A bluing light crawled through our bones.
The cries, I simply began to imagine them.
The way I did with the dead and the living and whatever
exists between the crying. This day could have been our last,
but we wouldn’t have known afterwards, or would we?
I had a thing for lions. You were sweet on birds.
The rocks made it difficult. We came to sound, sand and
the whole sea crashing everything. I was filled with hope
at once, the ocean of new cries floating towards us,
then pulling back.

To Top


for Suzanne Pyne

While I sleep I enter your house again
to begin my goodbye, stopped already
by unmoving hands. A grandfather clock ticks
in your living room, the walls sweet as cornflower.
I tell myself, "Blue makes goodbye
possible." These rooms that only exist now in dream.
Someone else has bought your house. But in those of
us who remember you there are only blue walls
forever. Nothing to blame except the ghosts
the maples made, like beaks, in your garden.

I tell myself in the dream, "She will be
a tree now. A bird's nest in the crook of a wooden
spirit." In sleep I learn more about farewells when I've tried,
no luck, to burrow these dreams deep within the heart.
Graft the mood to my bones. So starless there, I can make
Suzanne live. In the dream I'm trying to get up her stairs
of old wood. Scale her cancerous body. Find the bough
of a burnt tree that still clings to its surviving blossom.

I can smell its fruit: the body opening to the next life.

I abandon my legs and travel this wide hall
with my staggered heart. See the walls the prayers frame,
faith darkening. The prayers inside the walls, scratching and
crushed against their own bodies, like soaked rats in a blue-gas
pipeline. And like the light that flares for a moment
before all is exploded I have faith again
in the dream. I will find her alive
somewhere in a bedroom, praying. Feeding
the rats the blue-shrunken rinds of faith.

To Top



Fitting my lips through the mask’s hole,
my bottom lip was darker and fuller
than what the space allowed.

The eyes were too wide.
I could blame the design. Imprecision
of the scissors had been careless,
the mold was ordinary and cheap.

The cheeks were oval poppies. Forever
would the spots flush without provocation, without
wondering how the blood would find
its life under my skin. My life.

The painted brow and spider lashes. I am lost
underneath this face. I cannot make enough space
for the light shining from the strange-lidded
slants, the broken lips forced to part, speak Enough.


About the Poet
Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a Cave Canem Fellow.  She received a MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and the MA in English Literature from the University of Delaware.  Her poetry, fiction, and photography/visual arts has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Indiana Review, Puerto Del Sol, Gathering of the Tribes, Inkwell, PMS: poem memoir story, Black Arts Quarterly, Saranac Review, Lumina, Brilliant Corners and others. She lives in Brooklyn.