Two Poems by Monica Rico

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And When We Return, We are Water

I am ashamed
to admit how my fingers
swell. My ring
too tight to wear.

The lake filled
with enough
jeweled pollen
and eyes of fish

who keep a light on
and remind me
to wear my watch.
I tell my husband

too much, I can’t
keep a secret.
I am afraid of water
and wind.
My love is
a swallow who
dips a wing between
the slick edge of water
and sky. The left hand
in holy water
instead of the right,
a song
I teach my cousins.
Once, I held them

barely above the water.
Their little claws
scratched when they splashed
and shook. Don’t let go,
but I do.




I misunderstood.
The first woman sailor I met

had one eye and a husband
who called her Happy.

She hated it.

Ears plugged, blood
hums from the shell;
I am hearing myself

recite the names of Mercury
astronauts because women
on boats are bad luck.
I didn’t say excuse me to the tiller

I shouldn’t be,
the way a fish doesn’t care
when he touches me.
My leg, fishnet and hawk—
holding myself
underwater doesn’t have the desired effect.
I wait to grow gills and rise. I wouldn’t survive
one kiss on each cheek.
Bueno. Bueno. Bring me a bird

as unloveable as a seagull.
My husband doesn’t like

when I wear lipstick.
I guess what they say is true,

breakfast before
worm, and hook.
Last night I dreamt
I didn’t comb my hair
or let my food digest. I can
forget on my own—
the shadow overhead
and overheard.
I am underwater
before and during
the time it takes
to make a bird
a boat, and call
them both women.




Monica RicoMonica Rico is a Mexican-American CantoMundo Fellow, Macondista, and Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award winner who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program and works for the Bear River Writers’ Conference.

Header photo by Jiri Fejkl, courtesy Shutterstock.

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