Maw Shein Win is a poet, editor, and educator who lives and teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poetry chapbooks are Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA/Commonwealth Projects) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press). Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. She was a 2019 Visiting Scholar in the Department of English at UC Berkeley. Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, California (2016 - 2018), and her new full-length poetry collection, Storage Unit for the Spirit House(Omnidawn, 2020), is longlisted for the 2021 PEN America Open Book Award. mawsheinwin.com
I hear the songbirds more these days.
Try to decipher sirens & calls.
T makes a cocktail for us called Black Lily.
I grow out my white roots, winter hair.
Our calico wails at 3am.
My mother’s losing her hearing.
Figs fall from nearby trees.
Wild bobcat roams yards of shuttered homes.
I read somewhere that blue jays molt.
Unkempt they fly away.
Otter & mink roam the fen.
I don a vest of moss.
Cormorants & curlew sound from the bog.
I avoid the beehive.
Sea trout & croaker move through saltwater swamp.
I consult my mood ring: how will I feel?
Sedges & saltbush, the bobcats are disappearing.
I cry at all the right times.
Pain coiled below the scalp.
Spine curled in ball on calfskin sofa.
Hydrocodone & THC bath salts from town.
Snake ascends from curving spine.
Grass gathers along forearms.
Foam brace holds neck up straight.
Snake in a patch near the crown.
Curving road ahead veers in the dark.
Musculoskeletal x-rays flash in brain.
Rip of pain zips from hip.
Ginger & turmeric roots grow under hair.
Rhizome shoots appear on shoulder blades.
The foragers salvage lemon rinds & fallen walnuts.
Someone finds a leather saddle on a lawn in El Cerrito.