Diannely Antigua, Poetry

Diannely Antigua. Photo: Savuth Thor.

Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection, Ugly Music (YesYes, 2019), was the winner of the Pamet River Prize. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and received her M.F.A. at New York University. She is the recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program. Her work has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems can be found in Washington Square Review, Bennington Review, The Adroit Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere.

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“Praise to the Boys”

………….On Thursdays the boys played basketball
in the church parking lot
………….while Sister Priscilla taught the girls
to sew on buttons, stitch hems, iron collars.
………….She’d lean her rigid body to guide
my hands at the machine, her cabbage breath
………….lingering as she walked to the next girl.
God lingered too. God watched
………….my hands feed the needle blue cloth bits at a time. He
watched my mouth, knew where I’d put it next, on the end
………….of a thread before pulling it through the eye.
Sometimes I’d imagine hemming my uniform
………….above my knee. Sometimes I’d fake a migraine
so I could watch from the attic, the boys
………….with sleeves to their elbows, maybe
just down to a T-shirt. I’d watch
………….their bodies sweat in ways I’d only seen at the altar
to a song I was singing, my voice inducing
………….a twitch of limbs, a wag of tongue
in something we weren’t meant to understand.
………….But God understood. He watched
one of those boys sell drugs at gunpoint,
………….watched one marry my sister, then another
kiss a baby’s toes. Three years later
………….I’d touch the sweat of one, in the backseat
of a Dodge Ram van, windows tinted, skirt
………….pulled up to my waist. God saw the boy
lick a silent prayer, saw my back
………….curve in exalt.

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“Diary Entry #1: Testimony”

I hope no one reads this—
I was pregnant in the purple dress

when I escaped from the house.
I was going camping, I was going to Canada. I was

missing a girl who was not a bride.
And I’m still searching for

the face. There was a surgery,
a bald head and a grieving. Tomorrow

I will apologize
about that burst, my ugly ghost.

I’ll feel guilty for two people. I’ll go
to the bathroom to get married

and dream of a driveway. In the dream, I’ll feel
the kiss. It’s the year 2000

and I did all my homework. The pastor
suspects nothing. I am 12.

We play the weird game.
And that’s not the end.

Read more: theparisreview.org

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