Wanda Deglane

Flowers in Phoenix

It is another stormy night in the tail-end
of winter, unusual for Phoenix and our
ninety-degree bones. I’m safe, I’m warm,
I feel my mighty heart pumping life
throughout each limb, each muscle, each
finger. Somewhere in the rain, a girl stumbles
home. She can’t walk straight, she isn’t wearing
her clothes the same way she put them on,
but rumpled, crooked, torn, and even in the cold
every inch of her skin catches on fire with hot, burning
pain. And somewhere inside, she wonders if maybe
she was asking for it, why she didn’t just fight
or scream or say no and the cloudburst dissolves
her into puddles. I think of her, of how much I love her
though I may never meet her. On the sixth floor
of an apartment downtown, a boy watches the downpour
from his window. He craves the end, a way out, anything
to feel and then not feel. He hunts for pills or razor blades
or bullets and his mind is all but resolved. And in my mind,
I touch his skin, and then his hair, I remind him there’s
so much of him left. And I love him too. Even farther
south, a woman pours foundation over rainbow-colored
bruises and wishes for a new face. She tries to smile
for the mirror but it washes away in floods. Every noise
in this too-silent house makes her jump for the heavens,
and she hopes yet another night that he never
makes it home. Yes, I think of her, too. I help her up
when she falls, I kiss the bruises until they fade,
I take her bags out the door and tell her to run run run.
I’m no fully-healed, flawless saint. I still bleed when I’m
pricked, still stumble and cry out and wish never to move,
but even when the storms come pouring down,
I rise and rise and rise, like the rain lilies, like goblets,
like a star no cloud can choke. I want to be an advocate,
an angel– for every time I fly I want to take ten more
with me. I want to scream when her lips freeze shut,
to save his soul when his body’s given up, to run
faster when her legs start to fail. I want the sun to rise
in Phoenix to a world that is blinking, dazed, doused,
but unmistakably alive.

Wanda Deglane is a 19 year old psychology/family & human development student at Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming on Dodging the Rain, Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, and elsewhere. She writes to survive. Wanda is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants, and lives with her giant family and beloved dog, Princess Leia, in Glendale, Arizona.

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