Cyan James

A curved blue-veined space full of water and silence

Billboard: shampoo commercial of a brown-maned woman
mouth bared wide and head tossed back and such white teeth:
happiness of the hysterical kind, like how I thought we would
laugh, poised like on a diving board, although {empty pool}
my friend started to cry instead, the tiny crinkles around
the nose and eyes: almost identical whether tears or giggles—

my fantasy is non-colored women in sensory deprivation pods
with duct tape over their mouths while non-white women talk
to each other and sing in their showers and water their plants
while the pod women listen and listen and listen and the water
does not flow under the bridge and the soundtrack is unbroken
by ads for hair straighteners and the words ‘I don’t see color’ 
gently evaporate from the pod women’s minds {chestnut, hazel}
and ‘I didn’t do anything’ evaporates as well while they float
on sentences they don’t already know how to complete, and 
when the pod lids unlatch, the blanched women do not rush
toward mirrors or turn their cameras around but practice
{concentration foreheads} the pronunciation of names
they didn’t hear in the rhythmic blood of the womb, and
practice, not crow pose, but {cotton} how to truly absorb

Cyan James’s M.F.A. is from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded three Hopwoods. Her work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and has been published or is forthcoming in Conjunctions, Shenandoah, Image, Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, The Account, and Salon, among others. Currently she is revising a novel about the women who survived the Green River Killer. She loves fiddles, falconry, long road trips, old front porches, and Laphroaig.