The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama


This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

Water Theory

                        ✶

If the moon’s surface was composed of waves
the way da Vinci thought, moon ocean
reflecting the sun and our dark seas’ faint glow,

borders might be understood in temperatures, or currents,
or light—fish sustaining themselves in the cold rock,
the warped water, our planet at arm’s length like a hot pearl.

                        ✶

During red tide, the waves
bring jellyfish you don’t see until you do.
A lifeguard washes stings with a spray bottle of vinegar.

On Cornish beaches, reports say Legos
have washed up since 1997 when a shipment was lost.
Occasionally, a sea monster arrives—
a thirteen-foot oarfish, a log covered in goose barnacles.

                              ✶

Third graders learn about the universal solvent.
But there are always exceptions:
during the density experiment—in water,
oil and honey divide into colored rings.

In the Great Salt Lake, some tourists in their hats
bob like corks all day, all day in the green water.

                        ✶

Monet’s bridge over the lily pond
is a dark curve in reflection. In Impression, Sunrise,
his bay dashes blue and orange on a wash of faded violet.
Nothing concludes in the current—
through and through—

Have you seen the video of the zebra
attacked by the lion? The lion clamps on the zebra’s neck,
but the zebra lowers her further into water.
Out of breath, the lion must let go.


Jacqueline Balderrama is the author of Now in Color (Perugia Press, 2020) and the chapbook Nectar and Small (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She serves as a poetry editor for Iron City Magazine and has been involved in the Letras Latinas literary initiative, the ASU Prison Education Program, and the Wasatch Writers in the Schools. Currently, she’s a Virginia G. Piper Fellow-in-Residence and Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.

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