SPOTLIGHT: Damsel in Dystopia by Sarah Borruto

Omen of Change

Anarchy settles on the horizon,
With a quiet quake, awaiting its wake
Into a loud roar—
Boisterous, yet ambrosial:
The coveted and craved omen of change

It’s a collision of colors, in which I’ve contrived,
Bellowing in the burrows of my peripheral:
A dance of shadow and shade and light
Swinging and gliding and consuming the canvas
That has known nothing but blankness

I’m ambushed by the prismatic prophecy—
One devised decades before its genesis—
Feeling complacent in the times adjacent,
But all it takes is a flick of the tongue
To break karmiac conundrums at the padlock—
A fate as analytical as
Spring succeeding Winter, and
The sun orchestrating night

Fear and freedom are the two heads of Change,
But do not be weary of what you believe is a beast—
She’s neither the albatross around your neck,
Nor an untrustworthy hound to be kept on a leash

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major

I kneel in the sand, watching the grains slip
Through my fingertips in form of a veil,
Trickling down my thighs— an hourglass of
My own; a creature of a transcendental
Evening looking to gaze at the ocean
Glistening in all its reflective glory.
Graced with specks of golden light— glinting and
Gleaming, garnished in jewel tones— the roar
Of the waves rattle my bones, waking the
Butterflies in my stomach. I feel them
Rise up into my ribcage and scatter
Through my limbs. I can see them fluttering
Beneath my skin, their vivacious colors
Penetrating my veins and flooding my
Blood with vigor. They raise my arms to the
Sky and lift me to stand, then beckon my
Legs forward towards the Siren’s water.

I submerge myself in the aqueous
Tabernacle and float in my freedom,
Swaddled in cerulean. But I do
Not float alone. Up ahead I see the
Setting sun wrapped in lovely blue and blush
Hues the clouds cast onto her. A beauty
I wish to wear as a pendant. I’m sparked
With the desire to reach her, and an
Urge to touch her perfect circumference.
I place my hands above the hushed water
And use my fingers to push myself up
Onto the sea’s surface. I run on top
Of it, my feet dash, pounding and splashing
And splattering with desperation and
Stress surged in each step. The beat could bruise glass.
“My oracle! My empress! My keeper!”
I get closer as she descends further.

I halt before my muse and gaze at my
Reflection mirrored upon her surface:
The arch of my brows, the lines of my mouth,
The hollow of my cheekbones— imprinted
Into her fiery core. I feel her
Warmth flush my cheeks like a glass of wine as
Her hue turns into a blazing orange.
A palette of a love worn well, dipped in
A spell reflected in my complexion.
We have the stratosphere all to ourselves,
I smile, though she is fading away.
“Please don’t go.” I reach my arm out to her.
“Until tomorrow,” She whispers, paling.
I fall to my knees hunching over the
Horizon. I try to bring her back, but
She’s gone. I already miss her beauty,
And as my tears slip, I wonder if I
Look as beautiful. I settle in my
Grief before looking over my shoulder.
I see the moon appear. Silver dollar
Dynasty; blue midnight’s prize, covered in
Cherubic craters hollow enough to
Find a home in. She’s just as beautiful
As her sister; the kind of beauty that
Washes away my woes and consumes me.

I sit at the horizon’s edge letting
My legs swing over while the moon hovers
Above me. Sheathed in the salty air, we
Look out into the world and gawk at its
Unfathomable deepness. The butterflies’
Wings start to flap harder the more I think
About it. I’m sitting on the edge of
Oblivion, the cusp of mortality,
Hanging from the thread of demise. I could

Jump right off.
Her flames tickle my toes.
I inch closer.

Game of Chess

Nose to the ground; you’re a hound with a sense
Of everyone’s scent but your own. With eyes
Roaming their face, on a hunt for your
Desire’s reciprocation. But won’t
That beauty be gone one day?

The day flesh becomes soil? It’s a game
Of chess and you’ve met your match, player of
The heart. A mate who will live just as you
Will live, and die just as you will die. It
Begins with the ground beneath the chess board
Crumbling— shattering squares of black and white
Sucked down into the void with dirt following.
One wrong move can throw you right into Earth’s
Fiery core, but is it worth the warmth?

Your opponent’s chair is wobbling; the
Table shakes their bishop off the checkered
Stage, falling through the cracks of dirt and grass
To meet its scorching fate. The timer won’t
Move their rook any faster nor their pawns
You took. You let go and grab hold of your
Opponent’s hand with a grip like a boa
Constrictor, and chase the spilling fragments—
The knights dive headfirst down the charred chasm;
The apocalypse puts the king in check.

It’s lighter down there than it is up here—
In the world where you take piece after piece;
Sulking in strategy. A playground where
You fight amongst false civility
And sacrifice a pawn for a queen.

Thin Skin

Life flipped the ordinary the morning I found her lying on the floor. A Sunday that didn’t feel like Sunday at all; a memory I had no choice but to absorb. The kind of memory she no longer possesses anymore, and there’s no way in knowing how she got on the floor. Time seems to be bombarded with unknowns these days. What I do know is I can’t let her see my tears slip, and I wish I could catch them in a vial to hide in my pocket. Re-read the unspoken “strong woman” rule: actions can’t be taken with tears and the tone in my voice must be still. It’s uncertain if her pain is real or if her bones are broken or if her fever is concerning. The world feels like it’s trapped in a kaleidoscope of chaos. Fragments of disorder and fever dreams: news broadcasts, death rates, city lockdowns, masks on every face. The world as we know it has altered at all angles and I have to grow a thick skin to wrap around it. Consume the doom in a casing of a hard-boiled tough stolid cold armor-plated shell. It took my family and I five hours to get her standing. I can’t apologize for the vial slipping from my pocket while she got there.

I don’t want thick skin.

I want my delicate skin. My overly sensitive skin. My see every nerve just beneath the surface skin. Skin like cellophane — sheer yet resilient, unspooling like elastic stretching far beyond forever. It can’t be stretched too thin because it’s limitless, while thick skin has no movement to it. I wouldn’t trade in my feel-all skin. Thick skin reflects the mayhem; thin skin absorbs it, encases it, breathes it out and repurposes it. How can we expect to comfort others with a thick skin? It’s much more heartening to be soothed by a thin, soft skin, and I don’t have time to grow a thick skin. I’m too busy tending to her bruised and wrinkled skin. I look down at all of our arms reaching out to her; we have the same freckled skin.

The skin I’m in is not a rough skin. The skin I’m in binds feeling to flesh. The skin I’m in is thin. The skin I’m in endures what’s left.

Selective Feeling

When all is inside me,
pressing against the
barrier of my skin,
the pressure is too much;
I feel it’s pounding, but
other times the pressure
boils down to nothing.

Bluest of eyes are
sensitive to light,
so I put out the sun
with my thumb, pulling the
skin back to reveal the
flesh of a clementine.
Tongue tracing the small
pockets of nectar— the
smooth yet bumpy surface
roped in white veins looking
promising, but the
juice is underwhelming.

If the arsonist in
me replaced the benumbed
extinguisher I hate
to be, then maybe the
juice would be sweet. Now

how’d this all get inside
of me? I let it through
my gates. Though I can be
picky with my guests—
exclusive with the
feelings I create on
days it’s not a free for
all— I suppose I choose
them on my walks, picking
up my company along
the way— usually
seeking them right before
their bloom, giving up my
soil for their takeover—
I pocket the rosebud
until it overgrows,
its thorns scraping my skin
as it creeps upwards. I

may decide to clip the
stems, snipping away at
the botanical barbed
wire with my shears. But
it wouldn’t be by surprise,
if I shall decide,
to ignore the scruffs
and enable the grow
until they reach my ear.


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