Girl Descending and other poems

Nicole Tavares



Girl Descending


when the cellar seeps of must

must me be      down there

underneath forever abandoned

a squatter in a pink building


I to U to O my tongue feels

a soggy stick forcing

a girlís name onto an earth, a nursery

rhyme a dark and wet without


alphabetical order how to make from a piece

of gum a hollow belly stuck

when I had been a pressing she 

on a bladder now my ear is a now 


to the door yellow streamers dropping

from under a dress I wonít remember how

she ends this urging has she let it

go?  I am stuck here    mother must be might


be wobbling upstairs in the shower

a salt that cleaves into crystals

then settles for the bottom of a house,

a mountain I want to catch her


fill myself in a chamber

pot from waist to toes my skirt land-slides 

along my skin I canít sink in cement

and she canít cleave this nail see-through bone


water wobbles in the well spring

donít flood me      mother,  down here-

and then, the water forever

drops   here, I am   her lips part


red walls separating from the ceiling

and water stains the white above

I think she must always be

up there humming to herself


rinsing her legs and feet forever mud

and the urine from her own burro

she rode above the earth feeling

each wobbly step move down from home


a gold river rich with warmth and waste

runs off my knobby trees who just need

to drink their own water

every puddle begins bottomless


when forget dressed as a cloud lets go,

and a girl who drops her body, a jug

topples crying    and the silence makes a




Narcissus, Narcissa


Light shimmies off her elastics

frizzing my vision.  What contact all a blue

all on my own. I donít know Iím not


clear.  Breath, such a tease!

Air blind, willful, all alone, then, night

leans over, plunges


this skirt, studded, rippling

gathers her up a body, choked up stem.

Face it, youíre not like those other ones


who this lake undresses outside lapping inó

I canít look, canít help myself

any more. Iím a witness


to water playing the swamp

gargling down the moon

milking that moon for what itís worthó


There, I am! My flower, my dark afro

and is that you pistil welled

in my throat, is that youó


brushing up against my style?

Lick the shore

my wet lily pad, undo its locked hem.


My denim pockets bed

profiles of men.  Why canít I make

a wish, throw out their reflections


and fall face first in? 

Itís too late for back

pedaling, swans are common and hollow.

At dusk, brides and grooms slip in-

to drag their feet, vow not to drown.



Platoís Cave: The Womenís Restroom


We, shadows, the beginning

no, whisper: we are shadowsí beginning,

love experiments in the night lavatory.

Sleep escapes our dreams, headless heads us

to the restroom, where puppets wash light into limbs.

Skins begin to tag against our beating

shirts, shifting the textures of ancient

ground in pearl dirt.  Hands lie tense, glaze over,

tile against the stone ages, this first time against

the shadows suffocating our wet black spaces,

We stretch our separate, joints connected crack

like grout gone cross or crucifix.

What moves our torsos, toward us darkness

toward the smooth counters

closing in like book covers

inside the told story tomorrow:

young women washing double-in the sink,

in the tub-the body cavern pinkó


Where were we?  Where were our twin

beds, that restlessness our home?

The menís restroom was the other in-

side wall. How we embrace

ourselves around our concave waists of world, a chain

unlocks the pressure of running


wateró O. Stalactites. Stalagmites.  Stiff predictable,

braille against new history. We are the shadows,

the beginning, dream graffiti:



Itís more the women who understand the lagoon

Says to itself,

watch me hold more.  Says to itself,

(,,) all night I needed boundaries, love.

I was scared of being the ocean.

 óBrenda Hillman


Bright On the Beach


she shoots me her

tripod of naming

New York-1 and The Russians-

my understudies in outside


in single file

the outlanders walk the planks

emigrate from Coney Island

kiosk kiosk:Kiev

the lens interrupts my signal


a dark pressure pacing

petitioning the Black Sea

I must be a pier

can she rescue me anon-

virgin,  wrecked native

a documentary  of  broken


from a 16mm volcano

like the Crime an  peninsula

she annexes homesick

directs me as a glow

brings out a haze


a streetlamp stands by

igneous lover-less

unstaining darkís lost-ness

in a beacon of hot

orange embering


I am loosing

a film a salted heart

in wave after wave breaking

bye my audience of Old Country

of domestic cigarettes

lit like a lava without

falling and communism-


the air swells  up

blistered tearful-

ness: an unsated monster

she wipes away the lens

so sailors in tall ships

a bottleneck of fog

and vodka wonít do

to look at me


what length is

longing tided out

washed rung a love muck

shore clean with refuse

seaís  passive-aggression is


the danger of erosion

but depositionó

            once a sand was just an a

            a volcano with hot bay windows

            loch-nessed shut


and I canít stand

to wear myself along

splaying my toes desperate

to hang on to something solid

a dark pressure skirting a window


splicing together alien passports

always this pressure to blow  up

the dead sea reels

burying the city -ex


Nicole Tavares is a Brooklyn writer of Cape Verdean heritage.  She received her MFA from Hunter College in Poetry. Her poetry and non-fiction are featured in Heliotrope, Phantasmagoria, Collective Endeavor, The Fader, and Her poem ďThe Hook: Crochetís Learning CurveĒ was a recipient of a 2005 Pushcart Prize nomination.  She was a co-winner of the Mary M. Fay Award in Poetry and the first prize-winner of the Edith Goldberg Paulson Memorial Prize for Creative Writing. She teaches GED, ESL, composition, creative writing, and crochet classes in New York.  She also is a copyeditor and contributor to Fandata Magazine, a publication dedicated to the Cape Verde Islands and its diaspora.  She can be contacted at


Photo Courtesy of morqueFile.




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Poems Copyright © 2006 Nicole Tavares. All rights reserved.