June 11, 2019

June 11, 2019


The Fourth of January

Milika Nevárez

Something reckons for us so we don’t have to do the math
even though it might seem that we can’t survive
without knowing our sum totals.
My life is full of subtotals — not exactly adding up but satisfactory nevertheless.
I wouldn’t trade them for anything and I think that’s the way it should be.

You shouldn’t have to calculate the big number ever during this lifetime.
If you do, you might end up like the man in the Bible
who died with bigger barn-building ideas on his mind.
This is right: it’s not about drifting, no.
Rather, about moving ahead — always moving ahead.

Folding the mistakes into the batter and leaving it a little lumpy
So the pancakes will turn out right.
(Which they won’t if the batter is too smooth.)
It’s sound and logical and a gift to have realized this today:
the fourth of January.

Remember the Church of the Open Door across from the library?
I used to stare at the kids taking a break outside the church.
All white
with those clear, certain faces
fundamentalist kids seem to come with.

Now, glad to be myself,
I acknowledge that it was okay to have been
filled with doubt, anger, and suspicion,
even though this seemed to cause something ugly to grow inside me
where light, truth, clarity, and health should have been.

Now, I acknowledge that this was my process.
My lot. Sweet, slim, talented, lovely, smart girl!
Meanwhile, the chorus chanted on
Your relationship. . . ,they condescended.
Sniggering, simpering, and pointing out my myriad mistakes to my face.

Never having read any Austen or asking a single question of me!
Obtaining all their information, rather, from their compadres.
That’s over for the most part.
I’m safe and protected.
Certain as the Church of the Open Door kids after all.


Milika Nevárez is a pianist, composer, and poet who grew up in the Echo Park neighborhood of L.A. She is a graduate of the University of Redlands, California, where she majored in piano. Milika has been performing and writing poetry for decades, and her favorite poet is Pablo Neruda. Her work has most recently been published in JUKED.