Best of the Net 2015  

If the Jornada del Muerto Had a Trachea

and she was choking on deviled eggs
      with yellow mustard and paprika sprinkles
from her mama's book club

picnic on the back patio, where she once
      played rag dolls alone until she found
her ghost sister Nieve white as snow cone before

the juice, if she longed for more than salt flats
      or sand dunes or lava flows beyond the fence's
thick irrigation pipes, if she was clutching

her scarf and flailing while the mothers
      read on, pages filled with ink the color
of the crows in her dark eyes, if she was lost

and lonely but none of that mattered
      now she was turning blue with swallowing
spongy egg pieces down the wrong tube—

I would wrap my red arms around her
      and python-squeeze until she spit them out.
Maybe her mama stopped hugging her

when her father left. Maybe her mama
      cannot see her baby white sister, lightly
snowing on the desert cacti, corseting

cane cholla like a muted holiday wasteland.
      Maybe her mama didn't even notice
she too had almost gone away, on the

xeriscaping, not breathing nothing—not
      grown-up conversations or party cups
filled with pink iced lemonade or stifling

winter air. If she needed me to, I would reach
      inside and scrape the ridges of her burning
throat until the lump stopped growing—

if she needed me to, I would lash
      myself to her brownstone neck, make
myself a scar.

- Jennifer Givhan (from Blue Mesa Review)