a literary review
The Eagle, Not the United States
Brown wings, like the two hands of my father
holding the tree from falling into Lake Michigan.
The white head of the eagle sees me before I stomp
into the snow, careful for the ice a neighbor
said is there, but can’t be seen. The reaction
of my foot is the release of the eagle, whose wings
search the wind, spread and part like arteries.
A wave stretches and retreats
across the shore and the eagle notices
the peculiar ripple of a fish. Gone, a rock
worn into the shape of an egg, a fist, heavy
as I imagine the weight of an eagle on my gauntlet.
This isn’t the first time, I’ve been left alone, unidentifiable
under a winter coat and hat. I know I am supposed to
lift my hand to everyone and smile, but I stop
when I see an American flag. I walk, pray
for invisibility or like the eagle I curl my feathers
along the bark, stuffing my head underneath
the arc of my wing until this disruption passes.
I go back to water, to the imminent need
for beauty. I am part of this landscape.
Hand Over Heart
I didn’t laugh when a woman said all
Mexicans carry knives. I felt for
mine in my pocket, it’s justice
defined by how often I use it and
never in a fight, but the liberty
to open or fix anything with
one swipe—a routine like my father indivisible
from his car, driving to work every day, like a god
who’s power is to assemble an entire vehicle in under
or exactly sixty seconds with a nation
of machines mastered like the control of one
tool stamping metal and stands
the frame upright— it
self a shell of edges which
spark and ride a belt for
my body, a republic
assembled by nails and hooks, the
abdomen of dragonflies to
beat my heart, and
with this I can hear America
as a song I can’t turn off of
the Saginaw river left in states
so toxic a legacy of factories united
parasitically through the
my city like a flag
folds before it falls. The
East and West still separated by a bridge that doesn’t rotate to
keep who away from whom as an allegiance
the walleye, the peony as my pledge
to not begin and end with I.
Monica Rico is a Mexican American CantoMundo Fellow, Macondista, and Hopwood Graduate Poetry Award winner who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan’s HZWP and works for the Bear River Writers’ Conference. Her manuscript PINION is the winner of the 2021 Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry selected by Kaveh Akbar.