Cali Linfor


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When you dream
the dream of babies,
does each limb slumber
in its place? Every breath
is holy?

Five fingers and five toes. Even the dream catcher
has five strings crossing each other in the light.
The sparrow's beak just so, the raindrop
perfect, and the open mouth of the flea.

The dark question, birth,
what right have I
to bear children
who surely could not be
in the image of God?

Christ opens his mouth all over me. Red
dirt, brown at the back, his mouth
has been filling up. I have no love for him.
The blessed child. The Lord's reflected light.

Dare I be
this blasphemous?
The mark of the devil
marring more
than my hands?

My father and his mother before him. We beget
small thumbs, a lack of arms, and missing fingers. Horror
in the faces of others. Yet, we persist like dandelions
blooming in the sun, our seeds blowing everywhere.

Our perfection varies.


Cali Linfor teaches at SDSU, where she lectures in rhetoric, composition and writing. She served for sixteen years as poetry editor of Epicenter Literary Magazine; she has published poems, articles, and short stories in The Beloit Poetry Review, Manzanita Review, Ekphrasis, and others. Linfor was born with a genetic disability that has influenced her examinations of beauty and ugliness, and her encounters with reading and writing as a child were affected by dyslexia. Her first book, A Book of Ugly Things, appears in Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems.