The Sunday Poem: Jessica Lopez... Custody

It is a nicer restaurant: tablecloths & steak knives. Over in the corner, a couple and their daughter sit quietly.

Jessica Helen Lopez is a Poetry and Creative Writing Teacher/NM History Instructor at Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School. She is a former member of 2006 and 2007 City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team. She is currently a member of the writing collective and performance troupe Mestizo Mouth.


At the restaurant, across the table
of neutral salt shakers, and violent forks
our stiff backs like wooden chairs
betray an ancient battle.
We discuss the finer points of divorce
over spilled merlot and plates of cold food.
You speak, and I grit my ears. My face a closed envelope.
I draw lines in the spilt salt with my steak knife.
Our daughter is a dividend,
carved from my hip
and a piece of your rib.
She scribbles furious
red circles marking the paper,
bleeding the tablecloth.
Her voiceless soul rustles,
a thousand shards of glittering mirrors
hanging like leaves from a tree.
Poised above her delicate head
her seashell ears
her round face
hair like fine spun silk,
Solomon’s hefty sword,
ready to burst her
bone from flesh
cut her in half,
one piece for me
one for you.
We swallow the last
of our bitter wine,
split the bill
and part ways.

--Jessica Lopez

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email The whole Sunday Poem series is available from the front page of the DCF by clicking on The DitchRider in the left-hand sidebar. Poems early in the series are archived under "previous post" at the bottom of The DitchRider blog.

Views: 91

Comment by Adelita on November 29, 2009 at 8:32am
Comment by cathyray on November 29, 2009 at 8:49am
I was going to say that . . . . Wow!!
Comment by cc on November 29, 2009 at 8:57am
A needed eloquence for the hardest reality.
Comment by Stephanie James on November 29, 2009 at 9:30am
heart wrenching.
Comment by Barelas Babe on November 29, 2009 at 11:23am
Poignant and piercing.
Comment by Jessica Helen Lopez on November 29, 2009 at 1:06pm
what a nice surprise on this cloudy Sunday morning---thanks for the publication Jon and thanks to all who commented.
Comment by Rich Boucher on November 29, 2009 at 1:07pm
"My face a closed envelope."

Easily one of my favorite lines in the poem. This work is careful, considerate, and hardcore. I am a little biased, to be sure, having seen Jessica perform this poem before a live audience, but, nonetheless, what a great choice, what a great poem for this Sunday.
Comment by Richard V on November 30, 2009 at 8:48am
now that's what i'm talking about. don't know what took you so long to get here, but i'm glad you finally did. excellent poem. i've never seen your poetry on the page/monitor, and it reads as well as you perform. looking forward to your book.
Comment by Margaret Randall on November 30, 2009 at 2:56pm
Great poem. I love it when poets can imbue so-called inanimate objects with life and motive. Such power! Thank you.
Comment by Margaret Randall on December 1, 2009 at 9:09am
I wrote yesterday how much I love this poem. My comment appeared and now seems mysteriously to have disappeared. I'm sorry about this. I love the way you imbue inanimate objects with life and motivation--the play between the face and the closed envelope, the child as dividend.


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