Self-portrait of Our Name

Lana Bella


Sometimes our name sounds like 

rice and tastes anything more

it would have meant hurt. 


When I was fifteen, I watched

the bend of my mother’s prayers

suffering with my newly born

curves, flowering somewhere soft

and dark.


I thought of her then leaving too

much sky in the wild north of dawn,

wearing bone that fell midway

down the paddy, clutching vegetal

curls heady on the stalks, fore-

head pressed to damp as my once

great escapades from home.


Wiped sweat onto skirt pleats, I

lodged back on old nocturnes held

in the gut by life, plummet of sun

took the long, slow curve into

the bottom of rice field where a girl

walked this land before, lifting

hemlines as to know what seeing

was about her ankles and hips.


Yet things I reached for long ago

seemed too far now. Lately, a body

of my own shaping felt more in

the way of someone else’s storm,

how I born to my mother as a girl of

magic but I was with it frightened

of the moon, and how there was

nothing like the memory of us that

can’t leave me the same, feeling

every cut that won’t close.

© 2015 Cogswell College •  191 Baypointe Parkway, San Jose, CA 95134 800.264.7955 •