plain china: best undergraduate writing

Volume One : Issue Two

Romantic Dogs

by Marlo Barrera

Fishing Trip by Elizabeth Bennett Fishing Trip by Elizabeth Bennett

(From My Mother to My Father, Before My Birth Only)

When we were dogs,
some invisible ground led us
to each other, the corner of some block
on some street we didn’t know the name of
(or couldn’t pronounce). I imagine you
got there as I did: tail between your legs,
snout down like some bent pin.
We moved lonely

between houses for scraps. Reader,
is this not the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard:
bodies baring themselves before winter?
Upon meeting under lamplight, skin exposed,
bodies crooked still, night came asking for us both.
You bent further, your smell like fruit hot in the sun.

(From My Father to My Mother)

Your mouth is the single shape
I can’t describe in a word.
Try: post-blossom.
Try: insatiable monster.

(Later, My Sister and I)

We had our start in a woman
who restarted to the point of exhaustion,
to the point of reiteration.

She traced the border of every life
as if finding one meant nothing.
There was no urgency
and we were born (separately)
from that lack, from a stray wanting north
who gave herself to two mutts.

Sometimes I remember my birth dreams. My sister remembers our mother’s interior and “we were floating there” as if in the bogs of some marsh. Our coast calling is strong now to the south where people are fearful of their own towns. We are learning, press our bodies to storm drains:
wait for the coming rain.

About the Author

Marlo Barrera

Oberlin College

Marlo Barrera currently attends Oberlin College in Ohio. She is originally from New Orleans, which is the place that holds her closest. Her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines. In 2009, she and Bennet Bergman put together a chapbook, On the Savagery of Children or Abby Feeding the Fawn.