Erin Rodoni

Watching you fight, I recall The White City



The city left is not the city

met, bright in formal whites,

in Sunday best. Monuments restore

beneath tents. But history rents

the skyline, exposing the scaffold,

the What If

City of ships

that didn’t launch, plagues

that didn’t brood within the bowels.

Underground, spring is the most intimate

violence. Bulbs mole. Patient

tubers metastasize meadows

beneath winter’s

hide. Every city

that lasts entombs its own

ruins. And cancer is only growth

without respect for border, building

code. Prophesy foretold a city

white as sails, glinting just behind

the horizon line.

La Cuidad Blanca

midmorning. Sunstruck.

Tideleft. Like a whalebone

corset, its walls cuff the current

of commerce into whirlpool

of shoulders. The city made

flesh. The city’s

hundred tongues

slugging up your dress. Change,

like every disease, begins with a few

strays. War is always declared

a day too late. When they began

injecting chemo into your spinal cord,

I pictured Kahlo’s

“Broken Column.”

Braced. The pain inherent in trying to stay

the same with that molten spring inside.

Over Frida’s shoulder, the empty slopes

suggest what is lost                   stays


lost. (A crocus beaks through frost.)

Immolation Lessons


“Let these wives first step into the pyre, tearless without any affliction and well adorned.”

-Sati Hymn, Rig Veda



A finger’s width is touch enough to tender

a girl unused to glowing at the center


of attention. She’ll fill that space, a show

pony hoofing inanities in tight dressage,


until something in her finches, dizzy with

insistence. The prick of a lit wick.


Before Sati was an untranslatable act

she was a daughter who defied


her father for a god too cool to notice

her devotion, until it was consummate.


Like a girl in the wrong shape

for between class skirt-flips


who wears one (back of her knees:

upturned palms) each Friday, she dressed up


in an asceticism as extreme as he

wanted her to be. Now she knows better


than to look at what their eyes are

mouthing, keeps her shoulders stiff,


as if the touch is unwanted or wanted

too much. It’s a slow-dance with a wind


she’s half afraid of. Each feathery fingertip promises

quill, tickles like boys on Holi when girls on purpose


slow their strides. Nothing’s worse

than to be uncaught. As trip-wire Chakras


explode her spine from coccyx

to hairline in controlled demolition,


Sati cries Papa, I enter his heart

in a suicide vest. In a vacuum



a feather plummets at the rate of

I can’t take it anymore. Such surrender,


is it strength? I’ll cheat and say that it depends

on what it’s too. We’ve adorned our flesh


to keep the spirit clothed.

We’ve burned the clothes


to let our spirit show.


ERIN RODONI’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, The Pinch, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, and Ninth Letter, among others. Her poems have also been included in Best New Poets 2014 and featured on Verse Daily. She received a 2013 Intro Journals Award from AWP. She currently serves as the Poetry Editorial Assistant for Literary Mama and lives in Point Reyes, CA, with her husband and young daughter.