Two Poems

Paula Mendoza






I learned the myth of a mother

rejecting her animal infant by scent


but remain half-convinced

of the touch that mars a body


alien, estranged, the way a thumb

measuring an in-between


distance just as soon might smear

my name illegible, a black


streak, the negative of meteor

debris tracking a wish across


white sky. No less the wake

of a folded boat along


a canal, paper buffeted past

bottle throats, snags of glass, all


discarded, iridesced. And, in our

wishing, scavenge what glitters


in the dreck. Because any exile

believes herself a changeling, taken


in. All her beloveds, duped.

A doubling like common time, or


how a slow shutter resolves into

an exposure of ghost in silver


nitrate, gelatin. If written, the trope

replaces waking, when, vanished


by morning we ask—no-one who will

answer—where am I? Where am I now?











You were between two animals.
Between two attributions.
At the crotch of a river’s fork.
At a loss, at least.
Between all losses, tendering alms.
By the skin of one’s stolen teeth.

The lethargy of one newly shorn.
To derive, say, attenuate, say
starved to a taper. A porousness.
False asphodel if aphasic, if sticky.
Vaseline-smear a focalization.
Ocean maw and mountain blade

recede. At last, at least—this. A figure

gathers line and edge. She is between
two roars. Who devours or drowns.
Say shore when you mean precipice.
Say split when you mean in pieces.
Redoubled at the jut of some far

becoming. Between, to say the least.

A shade and its absorption. To

swatch a sea’s phonemes, to score

what of light she keeps to let through.








PAULA MENDOZA’s work has appeared in Bennington Review, Seneca Review, The Journal, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA at the University of Michigan and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Utah. She lives and writes in Salt Lake City.