The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Scattered Arils by Dena Rod

This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Scattered Arils by Dena Rod, released by Milk & Cake Press in 2021. 

the lion’s husband

he tells me not to
sleep in lions’ dens.
their laziness belying
dangerous claws and teeth,
a proud animal where a fallen
kingdom would not be taken

his long thin, brown fingers
were wider at the knuckle,
dusted more sumac than sand
reddish brown fingers ending
in broad nail beds
with clean half moons.

the persian word for lion
is the same word for milk
and faucet, the context clues
you to the sign of the lion, forever
linked with monarchy,
shah apologists, supporters.
my juvenile mind trying to
speak understanding to my tongue.

left hand remains on
the steering wheel while
right fumbles for trusty
lighter in a shirt pocket,
a crumpled silver foil package
emblazoned with a gold chevron
now sits in the cup holder.

mirrored full pink lips
part as the white
filter perches in between words
of warning trailing out
with acrid smoke.

begging to ask
who were the lions
in our family pride?
who were they?
did they know me?

he looks towards me,
smiles and says,
“don’t worry.
they should be
dead now.”

i turn to look outside
the car window,
gazing at hills rolling by
grassy and dry. at one point
they were lush green mounds.

Dena Rod is a queer Iranian American poet and essayist who focuses on illuminating their diasporic experiences. Described by The Bold Italic as a “verbose advocate,” they’ve been widely published in literary journals and anthologies such as The Rumpus, My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, and Butter Press. In 2020, they debuted the chapbook swallow a beginning and toured with RADAR Production’s Sister Spit. Scattered Arils is their first poetry collection.

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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