Sheryl Luna
Longing comes in birdsong and water

It was as if Mozart knew the language of sparrows. 
How to forgive those who dismiss us? 
We are as children in the schoolyard. 
Laughter and tears, the pajamas of our dreams, 
nightfall coming in the rain.
We want and cannot have so we fight. 
We dream a million dreams, each memorable 
as if psychotropic drugs release us. 
This is the night of rebirth? Can letting go 
come in rainfall and two geese magically flying above? 
Can letting go come in the last wintry chill? 
We are but questions and responses, the vivid art 
of trees and landscape. We write nothing new, 
and all that is old is not darkness? The bush 
half lives and half dies. Yin/Yang and the impossibility 
of truths lingers through our weighty bones. 
We are walks, the path to nowhere, the path home. 
Today, I prefer the painted path, the canvas colored bright. 
The first thing you learn when you sketch is shadow 
reveals light. We revel in the symphonic scattering of birds, 
their wild circling and diving, as if Mozart listened 
and learned their calls of longing. The birds 
don’t need our music. The bugs suddenly land 
on our skin, a fluttering wildness, and we, without thought 
swat. This is heaven, the hills filled with green. 
Language does not deliver the ache of pain? 
We seek form from formlessness, a name from the void, 
the echo of winds, our losing coming and going as this breeze.


You go soon; I will follow and this life 
a short one. The moon is on the ocean. 
We are of the desert wind. We are arroyo 
and blue vistas, blue mesas. The table 
filled with books and papers. You paint 
at the edge of Texas beside Mexico. 
My friends tell me to write, and the dollars 
still short, we move on towards the dark. 
But it is a time for light, you tell me, shine 
a little light, and there’s a deep swathe of dark, 
but we are only dreaming. I think I’ll find love 
in the pages of a writer, think you’ll find love 
in a painting of reflections. We are making turns 
to and fro, and we are just beginning,

The Cough

The cough grew worse with the days 
And years. Medicare wouldn’t pay for the x-rays. 
The poets were scheming who would win, 
And life is short, sweet mother, 
Your daughter grows melancholy for flowers. 
Winter in Colorado a long waiting. 
The desert winds carry the dust of your burden, 
Won’t you move to Colorado? I’ll sing in the desert 
again soon, if I must. There are a million poets 
grappling for nothing, and the wind here 
reminds me of home. Your voice cracks still 
and nothing takes away the breaking. 
Time is short, and I’m a fool for losing. 
There are a number of illnesses, and every poor 
American stuck with it. The political poets 
charge me at every turn mother. The bull’s 
horns red with my blood, and all that matters 
is I return to you before it’s too late.

This is the way we come to light

Inevitably slowly, the warmth of it enough 
to fill the emptiness. 
We are forgetting traumas daily. 
We’re not here to entertain the birds, the trees 
do quite well with their own music.
Black spotted leaves were strewn along the ground 
when she died. Blackbirds rushed through the air,
a symphony remembrance. Wild shrieks, the hot days 
billowing through us like smoke. 
We are the quieting resurgences of silence, 
the mystery of days, the moon moving through space.

We do not owe the birds the entertainment, greedy 
we are for the moment. Here then gone, bat wings, 
wings of sparrows, robins thinly perched on bare trees, 
the grass quiet with yellow flowers, blooms,
the suddenness of spring. She was once willows 
and herons, once arroyos and cacti, but today 
she has turned her back on the distance of planets 
for the brief day’s light.

Sheryl Luna won the inaugural Andres Montoya Poetry Prize for emerging Latino/a poets, and her first collection Pity the Drowned Horses was published by University of Notre Dame Press. She has received fellowships at Ragdale, Yaddo and the Anderson Center. She also received the 2008 Alfredo del Moral Foundation award, funded by Sandra Cisneros. Poems have appeared in Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Amherst Review and others. She is a Canto Mundo fellow.

Four Poems