Spotlight: Immigrant

you have to learn to live with emptiness
my mother told me           I drank water
when I was hungry           I drank water
the way people hustle onto trains rushing to another city

the rain begins in one window
but always finds its way to all the others

your dog scratches at the white couch I brought with me
the only thing left of mine I can still touch
in this place stuffed with dreams that stopped talking         long ago
we mistook the pelting of rain
and the refrigerator humming
and the sound of the mailman thunking our bills
into the box for our dreams still talking

your dog tears the fabric of my couch           the way lightning
rips open the belly of sky so you can’t look at it without seeing

you call someone and they show up with a truck
hoist the couch out of the corner and into their arms and haul it out
the door I once entered       hungry       coins sewn into the stuffing
plunk to ground one by one and I think about what it means to follow

someone to the edge of nothing

the truck grumbles down our empty road         the rain answers

you have to learn

I sweep the wooden floor bereft of its face
I mop the place the couch covered like clothing
I wipe the fat baseboard with a rag wet with rain

I am so quiet now your breath has its own language
I still don’t understand


Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of memoir, The Going and Goodbye (Platypus Press, 2017). Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Brevity, The Rumpus, Santa Clara Review, New Madrid Journal, and Cider Press Review, among others. Her website is