Kiyomi Kishaba

Kiyomi Kishaba is a junior with a double major in English and Communication, and a minor in Hispanic Studies. She also edits for the Mast newspaper and writes for the athletics department. When she’s not writing and editing, she’s probably swimming, dancing, or eating chocolate.

The Poet at Seventeen

I drove to fall swim 
       practice down a one-lane road. I’d switch 
between throwback radio stations, windows down, and watch 

                              the sunrise paint my fortune in the sky with wind 
        whistling through my tired hair, and itch. My school days tumbled 
                                                                          on and 

on, spent daydreaming of the girl I was and the woman 
          I would become. Clad in thrifted dresses or form-fitting jeans, passing 
periods were my red carpet premiere and I’d walk, no, strut 

                                               by boys I pretended not to see 
                looking, and white girls whose whole closet was lulu lemon leggings,
                                                             and roll my eyes knowing

none of this mattered 

because, after June, we’d be scattered 
           across the country, with new boys and new white girls watching 
us walk to class. But our country was divided. I cried 

                                   myself to sleep the November night our country turned 
                       red instead of blue, anger boiling 
           at the back of my throat. Months later my mom and I marched 

alongside women to protect our bodies and the bodies of others. During spring 
           practice young bodies remembered laughter and sunlight 
bounced off the water, blinding us from looking 

                               too far ahead. Tanned skin, dry from chlorine, stretched 
                                          over lean muscles trained to pull 
                                                        through water, find rhythm in the still 

air, and belt lines of fire. Tired, yes, but 
        young and 
                 growing and 
                                   itching to be 
than we were. We’d clamber out 

                   of the pool, sunset glistening orange and pink on our wet bodies, and shiver 
             as the breeze tickled under our dripping hair. Towels dried the sunset
                    off our backs before it could stain our skin, and we all too quickly scattered 

to the warmth of our cars. I wish I could say I cherished every last 
             sunset, but I turned 
my back and drove away down 

                                                               my one-lane road.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Necklace

You used to embrace the grass
tickling your back while you gazed 
at the stars, imagining them a necklace encircling
the blue earth.

A necklace rests between two collar 
bones, which protrude through uneven
skin stained green.

Thin arms encircle the woman,
dangling down over
her frail body. The girl’s head
weighs heavy on the bony shoulder,
oblivious to the way their hair
dances in the wind and envelopes 
them both like a necklace.

Vocal cords shiver like vines
in a loud necklace around his ears.

Grab me tighter, she gasps. Hands
grip fleshy hips, sheets damp and tossed
off the twin bed to the dirty floor, heaped
alongside a piled uniform and name
badge, which she will display at work
tomorrow along with a necklace
of bruises.

Along the dirt 
road to my house lives a 

man, who stands hunched
over his open palms as though wearing
a necklace made of adobe. Every
day I wish to trade him a necklace of jewels, 
but my back is curved, too.

Underneath stained glass preaches
a man wearing a white necklace. His
words meet broken minds 
yearning for

A fallen tree exposes its necklaces kept
on the inside, rings worth more than any jewels.

A green shell breaks 
the continuous blue water.
No one attended the funeral,
but the creature is adorned 
with a necklace of

The pebble skips across the surface, sending
growing necklaces of waves to awaken 
the fish.

I gaze out the small window and see nothing 
but white. My vision fades to black, and I dream 
of drowning in clouds, trapped 
by my belt holding my waist
like a necklace.

A horse statue stands outside 
the park. It appears unfinished, 
with half of the stomach gaping. 
The ribs are heads of horses reaching 
around the thin structure, forming 
a bony necklace choking the body.

Now you know the stars 
are not a necklace,
but a crown.