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     The Literary Review
                                                                          Issue 8

Page 79

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Looking at a spruce on a late spring morning

In the neighbor’s yard, needles from
a spruce prick the sky

not taller than the pink and white house
it stands behind.

A large shady maple selfishly spreads
its branches

A white viburnum shelters a Spirea
that cannot feel the warmth.

the weepy cypress keeps pace with the spruce
Is it difficult to survive separated from others?

My neighbor appears on her deck
she doesn’t think we can see her

but the artificial blue robe
disturbs the natural colors surrounding her

she stares at the sprightly spruce
then turns away to give her attention

to her husband in his yellow and white work tee
drinking steaming mugs of coffee

but the decades old spruce is set apart
quiet, alone, dressed up, waiting.

  Margaret R. Sáraco__

Ghosts in the Blood

The blue sky, bright above the trees
that have begun to sprout leaves
among early spring’s bare branches.

The sun’s polka dots burst
around buildings, and corners.
America’s landscape

Promising until we reckon
the volume of blood
saturating the earth

from the wounded and dying.
I imagine the final steps
ancestors, young and old

took as they trudged
to face another day.
America has always been broken.

  Margaret R. Sáraco__

Disobedience in Red

Sumerians invented lipstick
using gemstones and white lead

Cleopatra crushed bugs to create her signature crimson in Egypt
while prostitutes forced to hue their lips like wine.

Pastors declared red lipstick devil’s work, Queen Elizabeth defiantly
paints hers ceruse, poisoning herself and all she kissed, lips caked with lead.

Women who painted their lips tried for witchcraft, marriages annulled
deceitful, sinful, sinister laws written to protect men from their trickery

Sarah Bernhardt brushed hers on street corners and cafes
as shocking to many as sleeping in her coffin.

Wearing white hats and dresses striking blows against Puritan values
Five-thousand suffragettes marched for the right to vote

Lips painted red affirming their power

And still, carcinogens discovered in waxy shades containing lead
cadmium, mercury and arsenic brushed or swiped absorbed through the skin.

Don’t lick your lips. Don’t use it every day, defiance, like other protests,
might kill us over time.

And yet we still march on—

  Margaret R. Sáraco__