WHEN NOBODY'S LOOKING
by MARIANA SANTIBAÑEZ (MEXICO)
Issue 2.2 August 2020
Spring shoots out of a flock of robins,
Even when nobody's looking.
Inside the quiet, upon the ocean light of a computer screen,
is where I find the missing, where I find April.
As we turn into ghost towns and ghost stories,
I memorize the steps, the corners, the edges.
Finding beauty inside a cage, rhythm in the silence.
In the early hours, I walk through each room.
Count the steps, light up incense, say a prayer.
If I’m not careful enough, I sometimes walk into myself.
Jacarandas bloom in baby pink.
Sakura trees grow purple flowers.
Because nobody’s looking.
The year started with fire, with war and gunpowder.
We’re quick to raise a fist when we can touch.
It’s much harder to spit once we’re equal.
Equal in small spaces, in uncertainty.
Making promises inside shoeboxes.
Now more than ever, each robin, each tree crowns itself.
And as their roots stretch, the dust lifts off and the insides tremble.
Even though I shiver, I know better than ever,
Fear has no place in the ashes of a phoenix.
Fear has no place in the steps that follow.
Once we reach the ocean light, the real one, tell me, what happens then?
What kind of wishes, what kind of lilac cherries, will we bring to life?
How will our faces look outside of mirrors, inside each other?
Yes, I shiver, but I know better than ever, that it’s hope what shakes me.
Hope for the skies, for the planes, for ourselves.
Hope that we learn how to see once everybody’s looking.
Mariana Santibañez, 17, is a wandering, wistful, foolishly optimistic voice who finds pleasure in creating small atmospheres full of contemplation. They find their words in the act of taking the world apart bit by bit and placing it back together again.