Marsha de la O

The Boy Who Went Looking

I was espiritu santo, piñon fire–those flames. 

I ran the raggedy edge of downslope winds,

turned into a marsh hawk over Cuyama. 

I was a little girl under Zaca Lake. I was 

opaque. Given petals floating on the surface, 

I swallowed. I was quartzite, abalone shell. 

Every day I searched for my mother. 

I was hidden in a white man’s pocket. 

At the river, I became a pole bridge, 

a rope, I was hand-over-hand. Once 

I saw a ball of light moving slowly down 

the track. I ran, but could not reach her. 

Now, I wait. I wait. When people ask, 

I don’t answer. Silence is also speech.

After the Edson Smith Photo Collection Child near the Santa Barbara Mission

Marsha de la O’s latest book, Every Ravening Thing, (Pitt Poetry Series) came out in 2019. Her previous book, Antidote for Night, won the 2015 Isabella Gardner Award (BOA Editions).  Her first book, Black Hope, won the New Issues Press Poetry Prize. She’s recently published poems in The New Yorker, the Kenyon Review, and others. She is most proud of her work building connections in the poetry community in the Central Coast region of California. Also by this poet: “Horses Resting, 1909