Bitter of Winter

This is how we met: 

Sepia stained city,
barefoot on hardwood floors. 

Sometimes you are a toothache—
a swollen throat, now gone

You are only eyes. 

Yesterday was the anniversary
of uncountable deaths:

The earthquake in Haiti,
my cousin Amelia. 

When did snow begin to fall? 
Bitter of winter on my eyelash. 

Today the shadow of trees
traveled across the room

until there was only blue light left.



To My Cousin Killed On Her Bike

I couldn’t go with you
to Coney Island

so you made other plans.

You rode towards
an open-casket of dreams
gleaming with bling.

come play—

I remember your

Your blond wig, blood
packets in your mouth to bite
blossoming grief.

Is this another one of them?

Ghost girl
let’s go to the beach
let’s see the fire works.

But summer is gone.

Your name sings
a bruised blue.      


Leila Ortiz is a poet and social worker from Park Slope, Brooklyn. She works in NYC public schools as a counselor and advocate to youth and families. Leila received her MFA at the Queens College program for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. You can find her poems in No, Dear Magazine, Referential Magazine, Stone Canoe and The Ledge.