Raena Shirali’s great poem “tristesse” appears in Indiana Review 38.1, Summer 2016 Ghost theme issue. In this Bluecast, we have chosen to feature the poem both as text and recording; we believe that it is an especially unique opportunity to experience both the sonic and textual qualities of this poem.
Listen to Raena read her poem here.
girl with paisley hands sobs like a cherub. the courthouse has no lashes but we call it a person anyway. what we associate with smeared mascara. to say, “her expression was soft.” quiet girl children. mural on the elementary school wall of a single stick figure. smiling + looking down. looking like the girl you knew / saw on the news: missing: girl with training bra. girl with nude bra—nipples painted on. the question of breasts. her areolae goosebumped at your touch. girl with pot leaf for a mouth. every building shorter than the church steeples. sky fading gray to gray. how many men do not know where the girls have gone. something sticky, viscous on her glitter heels. heels not made to run from / in. tight leather & all that bullshit about straight teeth. take this woman to be especially not his in white, red, tell power how you really feel. tell him what she was wearing when you last saw her. communicate. you’re hysterical in your yellow room—a mind doesn’t just sail away. the sails on the horizon line look like a line of cocaine / you mean ghosts. you mean a line of cartoon girls in triangular dresses, just outlines floating up the coast—
Indian American poet Raena Shirali grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, where she currently lives and teaches English at College of Charleston. Her first book, GILT, is forthcoming in 2016 with YesYes Books, and her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Four Way Review, Indiana Review, Muzzle Magazine, Ninth Letter, Tupelo Quarterly, Pleiades, and many more. Her other honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Cosmonauts Avenue Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2016 Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, recognition as a finalist for the 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. She will also be the Spring 2017 Philip Roth Resident at the Stadler Center for Poetry.