Dissident Verses

Alba Cruz-Hacker

Forty-two months behind Mordovia

with a grilled square of gray to guide

her days from nights, swatting at angels

to kill them, following dissident verses.


She strikes with hunger for camp sisters: a witness

to remedies.  Her tools, allowed but once

a month to reach Igor, her other half of physics,

but no real thoughts or letters can escape,

no more than greetings transcend.

The firing squad awaits the indiscretions


from her pen.  And with the burnt end

of a wooden match, she engraves strophes on every face

of soap, sketches rhymes against each bar,

embeds each word as memory.  She whispers,

rolls lines between her tongue and teeth


a hundred times until she can etch them

on the paper of her mind: a note of low

sounds.  And then, with one cleansing

of her hands, words circle the drain.