Steven Espada Dawson

Self-Portrait as Moon Corpse

Hannah told me happiness is not like riding a bike;
you can forget. It takes eighteen months 
!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!to grow an adult
pineapple. Not a single honeyed chunk before then. 
It only takes seven months to grow

!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!a bastard. If I had a father, he might tell me miracles
take time to root. He’d call me impatient.
I’d call him
                   an Uber
to Point Nemo. I was wrong for being

                                                 !10!!10!!10!!10!!10!plucked from my unconscious
mother two months early, I know: a blood dam busted

!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!in her head. She slept for a hundred days,

the adoption papers nearly signed. The rumor goes like this:
!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!the same doctor that cradled me 

first told her only one of us could live.          Somedays I believe that

!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!is why I’m so fussy with survival. I search for my life

in stranger’s wheel wells, under fingernails, halfway up 
chimney trunks, every suburban breakfast nook. The Ouija board said nothing 

!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!then told me to floss more. The greyhound 
!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!in the neighbor’s lawn is wearing a cone of shame. 

She looks like a satellite dish hunting the moon. That soundless nightlight 

we made redundant with our billion bulbs. 
That circling corpse shaped after some small planet 
!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!clobbered our own.

I want what it has—to be so easily accepted 

into someone else’s living. Despite whatever happened to us,
!10!!10!!10!!10!!10!we orbit each other.

Steven Espada Dawson is from East Los Angeles and lives in Austin, Texas, where he teaches workshops for the Youth Poet Laureate Program. He is the son of a Mexican immigrant and a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. His poems appear or are forthcoming in the Adroit Journal, Guernica, Ninth Letter, and POETRY. He is the incoming Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.