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. 


we spoke with tactile sensations
before my tongue knew words,
the roughness of your tender embrace
belying the expanse of smooth
skin wrapped around my infant frame.

i should have read
the omens to my own fate
when you first
asked me to walk over
your shoulder blades.

we’ve been here before.
virile with black inked
into your mustache,
my juvenile steps over
the ends of your bones.

i know where the curve
of my spine began
to bend under touch, sweet
touch placed at
the nape of my neck.

your neck curves there too
where tired tendons
snap taut into place as
flushing skin whispers what is
larynxically locked
through capillary warmth.

limbs sprawled over grounded earth,
your weathering hand clutches
the arch of my calloused foot
textured palm to plantar bottom,
the way your feet bend outward mimic
mine, as they cup each other.

a penance ritual for a debt
i can never repay, my account
of life on borrowed credit.
still: with gentle footsteps
over your back, i can begin.

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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