Allisa Cherry



I bob like a float
in the Great Salt Lake

where the gulls that once
saved my people’s crops
from a cloud of grasshoppers

rise and drop
for brine shrimp

shattering the thin crust 
that lies over the shallows.


My father lived
by the laws of hospitality. 

He told me if the only thing
your host has to feed you
is a bowl of blood soup

you will eat until the bowl 
is empty. He said everything 
you have you must share 
with strangers.

If you sat beneath 
the shadow of his roof
he would salt your food 
from his own salt shaker.


I am my father’s daughter
and so I opened my door to you 

red-faced, hangdogged 
your Peterbilt cap in hand.

I offered what I had: 
fresh bedding 
in the spare bedroom
water from the tap
tomatoes so ready 
they split open on the vine.

What you took was
None of those things, baby.
And later None of that.


What do I mean
when I say I am
my father’s daughter?

A thing
as necessary 
and inexpensive
as table salt. 


I don’t want to rise
from this body of water

to feel my weight 
return to me.

Each salinated abrasion
received through these
guest/host transactions

sings a battle hymn 
Onward! Onward!

while my heart hardens
like a starched brocade

because of the way you took
without mind or mercy.

Because of the way I 
cannot keep myself
from looking back.

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Allisa Cherry’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal, TriQuarterly Review, The Maine Review, Nine Mile Magazine, Rust + Moth, High Desert Journal, and The Account. She lives in the Pacific Northwest where she completed her MFA at Pacific University, teaches workshops for immigrants and refugees transitioning to a life in the United States, and is an associate poetry editor for West Trade Review.