Four poems by Marisa Silva-Dunbar


Once on the reiki table,
a healer saw through me—
could see the patterns
an obtuse young girl
carries in her veins and skin.

Her soft hands on my shoulder—
the master whispered every
time your heart is broken—
it heals, becomes stronger.

In the end, I didn’t fear
the damage you caused.
Once I left, I finally let the gold dust
and lacquer fill the cracks, chips—
spaces. I mended myself.

I am still filled with life and beauty.


Cavoli Riscaldati

Once was not enough. Tell me how lonely you must be—
how your life unraveled beyond recognition that this
seemed like a good idea. They are a mold you invited
into your life; they will not shape-shift into daisies
bursting with color and freshness. You know this.

You must savor the facade they’ve created for now;
swallow it down with a latte, and brioche. Wear
matching outfits so that you can believe you are one—
a soul split in two. Why else would you give them
a second chance? There is comfort in the lies you whisper
to yourself before sleep. Make this repetitive mistake count.

This is a beacon, a warning. You like the easiness—
retreat when you are asked to grow.



She’d return every Mercury Retrograde,
unaware of how closely she tied herself
to the stars—how the constellations wrapped
themselves around her. She was shackled
—just like the rest of us.

I anticipated her arrival every time
the Swift Planet spun backwards
through the heavens. I tracked
her path across the sky—
plotted her patterns with pushpins.

She pretends she ignored his siren’s call—
how she couldn’t resist one more chance

to woo him, make him swoon with desire.
She acts like she didn’t show up unannounced,
undress and spread her thighs asking for one more time.




Sure footed in a brown corduroy bomber jacket,
slouchy boots, and teal scarf—the curled ends
of her dirty blonde hair, bounced with each stride.

And yes, this was still her mask, her fancy dress.
Chin up, and bulldozed those in her way. You’d expect
her to be the mother friend, the problem solver—
let me give you a pep talk to take on the world.

But it was a facade, and sometimes when it slipped
I saw this beautiful, young woman—messy and unsure,
but who knew she loved the scene where Amelie melts
into a puddle—a girl who will giggle and hold your hand

as we ran down the streets at night trying to catch
the bus back to our flat. Other times, when she was worried
we might steal her shine—she would give a sly smirk
just before her verbal jab pierced between the ribs.

At twenty, I couldn’t hold a light in my palms and whisper
I see you, and your fear. There is light enough for all; let us
illuminate one another and mend each other’s wounds.


Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in Pink Plastic House, Sledgehammer Lit, Analogies & Allegories Literary Magazine, and Dear Reader. She has work forthcoming in ArLiJo, and The Bitchin’ Kitsch. Her second chapbook, “When Goddesses Wake,” was released in December, 2021 from Maverick Duck Press. Her first full-length collection, “Allison,” is forthcoming from Querencia Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris.

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