Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Washington, DC: Red Morning Press, 2006). A recipient of writing residencies from MacDowell Colony (USA), Hawthornden Castle (UK), and Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), her work is published in journals and anthologies in many countries and online, with individual poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. www.ivyalvarez.com.




The secret sister

She appeared in the meadow, two hours after dawn, nightgown fluttering in her wake as the sun gilded the hills, the mist rose pale blue, a scentless smoke. Where she stood, she was a column of white and she herself pale, lips bluing, too, hair a black waterfall. Turning to look at her, the cold grabbed at the skin of my belly, my calves. In a minute, she was younger by a year. You could see it, like taking a watch pin between finger and thumb, and winding it backwards. Shrinking into her clothes, hair rising, skin tightening, smoothing, plumping up, chest-height, waist-height, knee-height, the reeds teasing me with glimpses of her. Then she was a Moses in her swaddling clothes, then the smallest embryo, then a stain. She did not have a name.


The Museum of Inexplicable History

For six months I arranged museum dioramas; in placards explained the scenes; led bewildered tourists through small rooms. The pungent oranges and bright, green wings, ebony mocha okay choking down coffees, teas, distant gazes. Now I am safe in the deep V of a weekday, cradled like a silkworm, suspended, watching the scene below. The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair, green trousers and purple velour sleeves. Queered courtiers, courtesans, slippered feet denting stone steps. When Alice steals away and consoles the Duchess’s baby, it metamorphoses into a pig and runs away from her, runs away. As I would, if I could remember. I do remember. That I, just ten, became the mystery of course, reverse, twitch, emerge. In the distance, a chiming swish of chintz, of pastel polyester: the Avon Lady treks door to door. Pinkness announces itself, calm and self-important. People are sharks, while all the wild protected liminal woods hoist their nets, weighing the harvest. Rough chaff husks falling, blowing away. Something offensive: a revolver is cooked into a codex. I read it closely. It’s January: time to go.