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Unerased | Steep Steps

Unerased | Steep Steps

Unerased | Steep steps

by Vanessa Couto Johnson

My grandmother asked, “Does it feel like being widowed?”

I walk between stones
of buildings and do my job.

One of my walls has a whiteboard

with a vertical slope of your blue words.
Your voice telephones above miles

of a straight-but-flooded road.

I expect: if I see you on a webcam,
I’ll need gold between my growing cracks.

I put on a new brand of lipbalm but think
it’ll attract bugs, that I can

only wear this far from home.


My grandmother is not a widow, not unless
ex-husbands count somehow.

I sat on her Japanese farmhouse staircase
that she imported back with her,

I a child up on dark wood nearing a ceiling.

Where else would it go? Drawers under
each step retained stacks I couldn’t read.

She read me of La Belle et la Bête, boar-
head man. Today, I realize most of the meat

I’m eating lately is pork bedded in something.

Rice. Eggs as sunset. Pasture of guacamole.
I revisit the same places that you will see

during the taste of next season.

Vanessa Couto Johnson (she/they) is the author of the full-length poetry books Pungent dins concentric (Tolsun Books, 2018) and forthcoming pH of Au (Parlor Press, Free Verse Editions Series 2022), as well as three poetry chapbooks. Most recently, Vanessa’s poems have appeared in Pine Hills Review, streetcake, Scrawl Place, Star 82 Review, and Superstition Review. A Brazilian born in Texas (dual citizen), VCJ has taught at Texas State University since 2014.