Claire Ibarra


My mother offers me a cup of tea,
red zinger swirls, turning
steamy water a vibrant pink.  

It took me ten years to find her.
In the silence between us, wind chimes
clang like we’re in a cathedral.

I drum my fingers on the Formica table,
a dream catcher hangs from the ceiling fan,
my eyes follow its circular motion.

She scoots to the kitchenette, places the
kettle back on the hot plate.  I look out a
a tiny window at the empty landscape. 

Her trailer sits at the edge of Death Valley. 

She tells me it’s her sanctuary, soothing
sand dunes, cactus blooming twice a year.
Jack rabbits come around by day, coyotes
howl at night, one bit the tip of her dog’s tail. 

My mother musters the will to tell her stories,
of tea with Jesus on a spaceship,
her lover, Irene, the one she left with,
about Uncle Ray and his slithering ways.

When it’s time for me to leave, she grabs the
King James from an easy chair.  The dog is
at my side, wagging his stubby tail.

The setting sun turns the sand dunes golden,
the sky a shade of purple.  I watch my step to the car,
coyotes get mean when searching for a meal.

“Reunion” was previously published in Lummox 2, print, 2013 and Vortex of Our Affections, print, 2017. 


Altered Barbie, circa 1978

Malibu Barbie, shimmery and golden.
My parents couldn’t afford the
Dreamhouse, so my doll
lived in a pinewood box. 

I hand-sewed her bed and sofa
with jagged, tangled stitches.
I gifted her hand puppets and
sock dresses, then chopped  

her hair into uneven patches.
I grew a year older and gave her up to
my brother and his friends, who
ripped off her head and crammed

her body with firecrackers.
Her limbs, caked with black soot,
scattered in the front yard,
discovered by the dog weeks later.

“Altered Barbie, circa 1978” first appeared in The Midwest Quarterly in 2014.


Claire Ibarra received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Her poetry has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Origins, The Midwest Quarterly, Pirene’s Fountain,Thrush Poetry Journal, and Literary Orphans. Claire’s poetry chapbook Vortex of Our Affections was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She lives and teaches in Colorado.