Shuly Xóchitl Cawood

Notes on Nostalgia


Shuly Xóchitl Cawood’s poetry collection, Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning (Mercer University Press, 2021) won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. Her other books include A Small Thing to Want: stories (Press 53, 2020) and the memoir The Going and Goodbye (Platypus Press, 2017). Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Sun, and Brevity, among others. Shuly also teaches writing workshops. Learn more at



The dogwood plumes in white. Soon, rain will stain these flowers brown.



When rain comes, which it does nearly every afternoon, it exhausts itself on my windows.



My mother told me, I will always be near you. I try to believe her the way I try to believe I am good and things will turn out fine. But look, a bird has bashed into the bay window and flails now in the mulch below. What pitiful wings we all have.



My dog snores in the bed beside me. Her sleep reminds me of that time I left someone I loved not because I wanted to but because I knew I should. That was a time I could not breathe well. That was a time when I lost my ability to sing.



If I start out telling you I’m about to cry, maybe that will quench this sad sort of thirst.



There’s an art to goodbye, though it took me many years to recognize that one could groom this talent, could become skilled and beastly on stage, could draw crowds. But no one applauds me, for I am still at the stick-figure stage. I let go of nothing, except rusted canning jar lids and old chapstick, and even those I keep too long.



I miss my mother, though I saw her days ago. She has not called today, and I have spent my morning wondering how I will manage when she never says where are you again.



The humidity outside is thick, like chapstick, except no one wants to wear it. Loss is that way too. Unless, of course, you’re losing the bad shit.



A dog teaches you to pick it all up, no matter how awful it smells, no matter its lack of solidity. I know you don’t want to picture this, but this is what it’s like for me to imagine impending loss every day.



See this pink napkin? My mother made it for me. She knew, God she always knew, I would have so much to clean up.

© The Acentos Review 2021