to miss america
is to turn twenty-four with an ass that refuses
to fit squarely into a string bikini. to miss
america is to miss the point
of each perky, each taut muscle
rippling its way across a wheat field. or to miss
the wheat entirely. it is almost an art: paring
a strawberry into symmetrical slices
for a midnight snack in front of the late night
show. amazing how static can fill
the mind, the gut. o america, i, too, have a stash
of sashes, folded up & boxed, their ribbons too thin
now for my frame. you don’t have
to tell me: this body is nothing
like yours—spindly tower
that knows its saunter, knows its shake. you strut
down a lit aisle & miss the brush of grass
against your knees. god, you’re as smooth
as they make ‘em—teeth vaselined
like a slip’n slide, you are oil & bronze
& glow. miss america, i, too, know
about thigh gaps. i know what goes missing,
the space between girl and grown.
you miss dining room tables, fruit
of your labor, warmth in your belly, warmth
in your home. i am with you: dried flowers
in my hand, the metallic sky
dulling your tiara. look at this mud
where a meadow used to be.
Previously published in Banango Street.
Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017). Her honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, & a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. Her poems & reviews have appeared inBlackbird, Ninth Letter, Crazyhorse, & elsewhere. She currently lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where she is the Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, & serves as a poetry reader for Muzzle Magazine.