Four poems by Marisa Silva-Dunbar

What you can’t keep


If he wants you gone, you’ve been a grey lady before—
you’ve been the ghost in other people’s bones.
Become a whisper that echos at sunrise,
a reminder of when he left.
(you should’ve known better anyway.)


And isn’t it better if he stays gone?
You’ve been growing these wings to fly
away in case he ever got too close
or you needed to slip away into the night
so he can never find you again.


Stay gone; call back the parts of you—
your fingertips on his skin, your voice
in his ear, your lips and teeth on his shoulder,
the sighs you didn’t know he could hear.
Make sure there is no part of you,
he can fully possess. Remind him the pieces
he had of you, were never really his.


For years you’ve been dreaming of disappearing into ether.


This sort of longing, like a star-eyed teen girl wanting to be asked
to prom or the drive-in, waiting until everything heats up
in the move to the backseat on a muggy full moon night.

I am more impulsive and nostalgic when I can’t sleep at night.
I think about study hall: the hours by the window, questions I never asked
the smirk in your voice, writing your musings on the wall; this list still keeps me up.

There is no grace in hindsight-wishing or in staying up
late wondering what we would’ve done on a night
that didn’t happen. No one will know it was you I wanted to ask.

The only thing left to ask: what are the almosts that keep you up at night?

The Spaces in Between

I’ve been reading your ex’s silvery lines.
I feel them growing like tree roots between us,
twining together in absence of you.

Pen against paper, she tells me not to miss
your homemade martinis or the late morning
breakfasts of feta and honey on toast.

She wants to buy me a new mini-skirt,
take me dancing in the aubergine light,
slip the caramel leather jacket
over my arms when the air turns to ice.

She’ll take me home, turn on Chopin,
lend me her collection of fairy tales.
She even promises a kiss if I’m lonely,
but she won’t wear your burgundy lipstick.
She doesn’t want to stain the night with thoughts of you.

Your Girl


I see the way she grabs your hand,
the overly posed photos she posts,
the wine glasses from the B&B.
I know about the stamps in her passport,
the ancient cities you’ve explored together.

You are her darling—the starling on her windowsill,
the flick in her hips when she tries to cha-cha,
the avocado gelato she indulges in on Sundays.

I’ve seen the thank you cards from your family
(and her glowing reviews),
she places them on your mantle next to fresh apples—
I read them when I’m over for jasmine tea.


I remember staring at you through your aviator sunglasses,
when you wrote on my backpack in whiteout,
after I turned over tarot cards for you.
I remember you read my thoughts,
and shrugged in disappointment.

Or how you mouthed the words to me in class
when the instructor called my name—
my homework was crumpled at the bottom of my bag.
I left notes for you—they shined in silver ink,
told you how to melt glass.


Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in Sixfold, Constellate Literary Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Awkward Mermaid, Spider Mirror Journal, Mojave He[art] Review, Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, Poetry WTF?!, Better than Starbucks Magazine, Redheaded Stepchild, Words Dance Magazine and Gargoyle Magazine. She graduated from the University of East Anglia with her MA in poetry, and has been shortlisted twice for the Eyewear Publishing Fortnight Poetry Prize. She has work forthcoming in Chantarelle’s Notebook, Barren Magazine, Pussy Magic, Midnight-lane Boutique, and The Same


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