Identified by Unique Manicure

Author’s Note: this poem was written in response to this image—created by Oana Maria Cajal—which is both about the war in Ukraine and part of a collaboration project titled “Shattered.”


Neptune Beach, 315 miles from Odesa

Broken, butterflied, and slivered
snails, shells, and rocks,

sanded and smoothed, silked
driftwood and planks,

bearded, barnacled relics
turned into sea anemone,

seaweed blooming red and black beans
and salty cauliflower heads,

mines that tumbled and travelled
more than 300 miles,

bloodied knuckles,
bits of flesh and eyeballs,

fingers, fingernails, waves
of guts and green bile,

wrinkled hearts
and the tiniest kidneys

the white birds dive for
and pick,

and peck,
dirty and reddened,

the pink,
white birds.

Claudia Serea

Claudia is a Romanian-American poet with poems published in Consequence, Field, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Puritan, Oxford Poetry, among others. Her poems have been translated in Russian, French, Italian, Arabic, and Farsi, and have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac. She is the author of seven poetry collections, most recently In Those Years, No One Slept (Broadstone Books, 2023). Serea won a Pushcart Prize, the Joanne Scott Kennedy Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia, and the New Letters Readers Award for her poems. She is a founding editor of National Translation Month, serves on the board of The Red Wheelbarrow Poets, and co-hosts their monthly readings.

Oana Maria Cajal is an award-winning visual artist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. She was born in Bucharest and immigrated to the United States in 1980 with a grant from the American Theatre Association. She attended the Ph.D. Theatre Criticism program at New York's City University and obtained her M.F.A. in Playwriting from University of California San Diego (UCSD). Cajal has written plays that have had successful performances in cities across North America. She returned to graphic art in 2007, with her volume of Picto Poems, Solenodon, and had numerous solo exhibitions in Canada, America, and Romania. She is a Fulbright scholar and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, as well as many art prizes. She is also a member of Dramatists Guild of America, Writers Union of Romania, Theater Union of Romania (UNITER), the Union of Fine Artists of Romania, Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and Playwrights Guild of Canada. Her play, The Last Pact, was voted “Best Play of 2011” by UNITER. Her screenplay for the feature film The White Gate was nominated for the Gopo Awards, 2015. 

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