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About this poet

Danusha Laméris was born in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House Press, 2014), selected by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the 2013 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and teaches writing worskhops.

Service Station

You’re beautiful, sister, eat more fruit,
said the attendant every time my mother
pulled into the 76 off Ashby Avenue.
We never knew why. She didn’t ask
and he didn’t explain. My brother and I
would look at each other sideways
in the back seat, eyebrows raised—
though, lord knows, we’d lived in Berkeley
long enough. He smiled when he said it,
then wiped the windows and pumped the gas.
I liked the little ritual. Always the same
order of events. Same lack of discussion.
Could he sense something? Attune to an absence
of vitamin C? Or was it just a kind of flirting—
a way of tossing her an apple, a peach?

It’s true my mother had a hidden ailment
of which she seldom spoke, and true
she never thought herself a beauty,
since in those days, you had to choose
between smart and beautiful, and beauty
was not the obvious choice for a skinny
bookish girl, especially in Barbados.
No wonder she became devout,
forsaking nearly everything but God
and science. And later she suffered
at the hands of my father, whom she loved,
and who’d somehow lost control
of his right fist and his conscience.
Whose sister was she, then? Sister
of the Early Rise, the Five-O’Clock Commute,
the Centrifuge? Sister of Burnt Dreams?

But didn’t her savior speak in parables?
Isn’t that the language of the holy?
Why wouldn’t he come to her like this,
with a kind face and dark, grease-smeared arms,
to lean over the windshield of her silver Ford sedan,
and bring tidings of her unclaimed loveliness,
as he filled the car with fuel, and told her—
as a brother—to go ahead,
partake of the garden, and eat of it.

Copyright © 2018 Danusha Laméris. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Danusha Laméris. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris

Danusha Laméris was born in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House Press, 2014), selected by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the 2013 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California, and teaches writing worskhops.

by this poet

poem

Did she know
there was more to life
than lions licking the furred
ears of lambs,
fruit trees dropping
their fat bounty,
the years droning on
without argument?

Too much quiet
is never a good sign.
Isn’t there always
something itching
beneath the surface?

poem

Out here, we read everything as a sign.
The coyote in its scruffed coat,
bending to eat a broken persimmon on the ground.
The mess of crows that fills the apple tree,
makes a racket, lifts off.
In between, quiet.
The winter fog is a blank.
I wish I could make sense
of the

poem

In those days, there was a woman in our circle
who was known, not only for her beauty,
but for taking off all her clothes and singing opera.
And sure enough, as the night wore on and the stars
emerged to stare at their reflections on the sea,
and everyone had drunk a little wine,
she