The World Between

Anna Citrino

Like a moth battering its wings circling a light
unable to escape, I lived once where coal dust
hung in winter’s lungs, breath a rasping prayer
inside sulfurous stench.

Gnashing of teeth, guttural growls, snarls,
screeching moans, and flung spit, through the streets
where I once lived, feral dogs ran in packs, searching
for the weak one living in the ally outside my window.

For many, this is the world—a thin strip of sky
between concrete walls or a long stretch through desert
where wrinkled hands press into the dust and dry stone,
aching for water, and green has been erased.

But here in this other world today, sea below and midday
blue above, a jazz band plays salsa on the wharf,
rhythm and notes spinning into April air.
Swirled inside the melody, seagulls slip

between and beneath the flute’s silver music
drifting across the bay. Pinned beneath their gold legs
gulls weave invisible threads through air—
a delicate lace hovering over the audience

in intricate fabric of rhythmic movement—a tent
of feathered light, rearranging fragmented thought
into intermingled melody, motion, and sky’s infinity.
Absorbed in music, drummers, guitar, saxophone

and keyboardist play on—crisp notes delivered
with vibrant delight. Held like a bird inside
a substance I cannot see, I turn with the notes
floating into light—let them carry me
into sound’s fusion of body with joy
spilling from music’s hidden reservoir.

There is this world, and there are the others,
and all the longing that waits in between.

A California native, Anna Citrino has taught abroad in six different countries. Her current home is Soquel, California. A graduate of the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont, Her work appears in various literary journals, including Canary, The Evening Street Review, Paterson Literary Review, Poppy Road Review, and Rockvale Review. She's the author of A Space Between, and two chapbooks; Saudade, and To Find a River. Read more at

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