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two poems

by Iris A. Law

My father wears the night sky on his back,


red ribbons to nebula glow.



Petechiae orbit his torso.

From the Latin: broad network

of needle bites, tiny eruptions


the skin. He punches

a thumb through wormholes, digs

at the itch till the milk

peeks through.

Sliver of soap,

a shower

of snowy


He shakes out his robe.

From the armscyes,



* * *

Scientists have documented

the life of a star. The ending

all blood-bright flash.

Siren rings swallow

the fading heart.

When the warmth of the body is

gone, it continues to give off light.

Brash blink in the hungry quiet, flare

in the telescope’s beam.

Deep in the frozen core,

the remnant

still twists and coughs.

The matter resists the rending

for as long as it can.

* * *

When I lie down in the dark, I talk

to my holes in the sky. Sometimes

I think I can see their old starstuff.

That last swirl of strawberry dust,

still damp with cinnamon crumbs.

The shadow of warmth still pulsing

behind the cold scar.

Galaxies of shed

atoms, the faces of the saints.

Pink trails

in the outer matrix.

I trace them.

My father, full of stars.

to my younger brother, still standing beside our father’s bedside

dear january light, dear star in my scuffed green sky,

the years wear loose on your shoulders. moss combs the oaks, the saplings we planted

years ago, their calloused trunks now grown into the sky. like them, we have survived. the

lichen sets deeper into our skin. our souls overwinter to weather the snow.

how soft the winter seemed when we were children. the sky shed its milk, quick as a red

bird’s hum. we packed cold daylight between wet gloves, ran hollering into the cackling

pines. a stick and a promise. pink of chapped fingers. the sun slunk back to its den with fur on its lips.

dear brother, to keep watch is to noodle a love song. to pick out the strain of a line, stitch it beneath the root. your heart, too, has muscled with the keeping. dear dad, you write on his death anniversary, i am still here waiting.

dear brother, i’ll write you a treble line. we’ll strike with our blades at the ice, twin shovels

sounding, descant and melody pulling the phrase to the end of the drive. when you’re ready, i’ll brush the sleep from your face. i’ll meet you on fawn-light feet, strum you a new teal sky.


Iris A. Law's work has appeared in journals such as the New England Review, The Margins, and Waxwing; has been honored by Best of the Net; and was included in the landmark anthology They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets (Blue Oak, 2022). Her chapbook Periodicity was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She previously served as managing editor for The Adroit Journal and cofounded Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry, which she edited from 2009–2022.


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