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James Diaz


All night I watch as the rain
collects inside of things left out on the porch
some god above tossing out her empties from the sky
I think of my mother
her ache a million miles long
and a century deep
there is a moment when the word you want to use uses you
and a body too
wrecked in on itself so long ago
the mileage on it has become the soul

a family on a highway
a small girl goes through a window
and is never again the same

and before that
so many hands being put where they ought not

I tell you
the body’s memory
is ruthless

there is a dream I have
where she is no longer hurting
where her ribs are not crashing into her lungs like waves
and she doesn’t have to flail her arms to be heard
she does not drown in a goddamn thing

she takes to the lighthouse
finds all the other versions of herself
drags them up from the undertow
places them by her side
says; let’s ride

her body is her own
she . doesn’t . move . a . muscle
and it’s all right
the light when it hits
is golden endless

what I’m trying to say is
I want for my mother a better story than she gave me

even this wanting: it’s her gift to me.

I see rain, I think pain
I see pain, I think mother
must have
carried that little girl
all these years from that wreckage
inside herself

like the wind howling dark mercy
can’t you hear it, it’s always been mercy
this song of hers

and I give it and give it
wanting her to be whole and still
and alright

mama, it’s all right
I know. I know.

When you go, let it be to the lighthouse
let it be where no hands touch you wrong ever
where no car crashes and no neurology misfires
where a body is just a body is just a lighthouse
calling every last one of her sister-selves home
and safe and unbroken.

James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2016) and All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) as well as founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared most recently in Rust + Moth, Cobra Milk, Bullshit Lit and Cleaver Magazine. They currently reside in upstate New York.


  1. I have dystonia. I love that you've written this poem. Thank you. ❤️


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