Saturday, October 07, 2017

Jessica Helen Lopez - The Word Is A Woman

I've been lucky enough to share the stage with a host of tremendously talented poets, among them Martin Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Maureen Seaton. What moves me about their work is a clarity, a lack of fussiness, and a celebration of the ordinary; reveling its sacredness, its ubiquity. Jessica Helen Lopez embodies all that and is searingly fearless in her writing and performance. 

Her poetry is both elegant and visceral, a true heart-opening experience. It is intimate, tender, sharp and focused. She captures the small moments, the inner life, and raises the banner of history and ancestry.

I have been fortunate enough to perform with her, too, and I celebrate not only her work, but her commitment to mentoring, teaching and community building.

Contact Jessica  via


Jessica Helen Lopez was the former City of Albuquerque Poet Laureate and the Poet-In-Residence for the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History from 2014 - 2016. She has also been a featured writer for 30 Poets in their 30’s by MUZZLE and named one of the “10 Up and Coming Lantinx Poets You Need to Know” by international digital publisher and agency, Remezcla.  Lopez is a nationally recognized award-winning slam poet, and holds the title of 2012 and 2014 Women of the World City of ABQ Champion. She is a member of the Macondo Foundation. Founded by Sandra Cisneros, it is an association of socially engaged writers united to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community. 

Her first collection of poetry, Always Messing with Them Boys (West End Press, 2011) made the Southwest Book of the Year reading list and was also awarded the Zia Book Award presented by NM Women Press. Her second collection of radical feminist poetry, Cunt. Bomb. is published by Swimming with Elephants Publication (2014). Her third collection, The Language of Bleeding: Poems for the International Poetry Festival, Nicaragua (SWEP) is a limited release in honor of her ambassadorial visit to Granada, Nicaragua.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the founder of La Palabra – The Word is a Woman collective created for and by women and gender-identified women. Lopez is a Ted Talk speaker alumni and her talk is titled, Spoken Word Poetry that Tells HERstory. A featured poet on PBS Colores!, you may find some of Lopez’s work at these sites –,, and,, Suspect Press, Somos Enscrito Latino Literary Journal, Casita Grande Press, etc. 

Her work has been anthologized in A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Slam Scene (UNM Press), Earth Ships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection (NM Book Award Finalist she was also a co-editor), Tandem Lit Slam (San Francisco), Adobe Walls, Malpais Review, SLAB Literary Magazine, Courage Anthology: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls (Write Bloody Press) and Learn then Burn: A Modern Poetry Anthology for the Classroom, second ed. (Write Bloody Press). Lopez was the Volunteer Coordinator and planning member for the Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSi) 2015 Women of the World National Poetry Slam Tournament hosted in Albuquerque.  

An Adjunct Instructor for UNM Chican@ Studies Department and Institute of American Indian Arts, she is also a book reviewer for World Literature Today Magazine. Additionally, Lopez is a Chautauqua Scholar with the New Mexico Humanities Council.

La Malinche is my Next Door Neighbor
for Mariah B.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.  
She sometimes snubs her half-lit cherry-tipped cigarettes in
my rose bushes, wild crimson and tangled green thorns spilling
from my yard along the border of her yard and back again.

I don’t mind.  I like the swing of her hair,
her swagger, and when it snows, the way she 
walks barefoot in the dusted-over ash-like whiteness

as if she approaches the lip of volcan
a deity sacrificial offering and not just checking
her afternoon mail, as mundane as the rest of us

La Malinche is my next door neighbor
and she left her husband or he left her
who cares, but we’re both glad he’s gone—
conqueror, territorial land-whore, abuser,
whiplash tongue, Eurocentric,
goat bastard.

La Malinche taught me how to cuss, how 
to use my spit like the poison it is meant to be—
One fine Sunday I dropped by to have some tea
she walked about her house nude, a glowing stone
nipples like brown saucers, pubic
bone a mossy fern.  She anointed 
me with oil of rose and the steam rose
from the slumbering coil of her sleeping hair

Sometimes she looks at me, in this peculiar way
eyes ablaze as two gold discs, two fiery suns
a mantle of stars woven into
stems, cornea, lens and rod.

I do not mind.  I am not afraid.  
I warm myself against the small 
bonfires of her mouth.

Everyday that shadow woman braids my hair
her serpent tongue licking the strands
darting in and out the corded knots

La Malinche is my BFF, my road dog,
my homegirl, my ride or die bitch, my Nahuatl 
locura dream, my two-step partner, my grito-howling
moon woman.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
Sometimes she borrows money from me.  
Rent ain’t free, you know, and her baby daddy
don’t come ‘round here no more.

But we prayed to La Virgen Morena Tonantzin 
for that small miracle, so there you go.

Eeeoooo!  And that fat baby of hers, grows
rounder every day.  His borderland patas plush,
his mestizo purple-scented lips drooling,
only two chiclet-sized teeth in that whole 
head of his.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
So of course, I babysit for her. That’s how
Homegirls do. And that baby is always
hungry, voracious.  I slip him
slivers of dark chocolate, orange rinds
with some of the sticky sweet still attached
to the skin.  We split a sweet tamal and I fashion
for him figurines from the discarded corn husks.

His manos always stained yellow with sweet grass, copal.
The black orbs of his eyes starless but bottomless
A forever Mestizo. The first of his kind.
Pobrecito, all that pressure. And when I give him milk
he laps up with a small pink, forked tongue.

This boy is our angel, original la raza cosmica.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
She lives in the painted lady with the pitched pink roof.
She attends CNM Community College part-time and studies Linguistics.
Go figure.

la lengua que es una India desta tierra

She ain’t no victim.  She ain’t no traitor.
She ain’t your Rosetta Stone.

She is the goddess of grass.
Malinalli Malintzin Tenepal, one who speaks
much and with liveliness

A survivor who works part-time at the Dog House, 
Off’ve Central, likes to go out dancing
on Fridays, feeds her baby  cinnamon flavored blue corn mush
sometimes dyes her hair blond like those pinche guerras who live in the Heights
and she is my best friend.

She has been alive for 500 years and counting.
She is the oldest young person I know.

She is eternal.  She is infinite.  She is the mother of our siblings.

La Malinche es una reina de las estrellas 
La rosa de el volcan

La Malinche is my next door neighbor
la espina la sangre el petalo 
The thorn the blood the petal

A Poem for the New World

In the land of the white cranes
skyscrapers and bank buildings
glisten like the seven cities of gold.

Bricks sweat beneath a blood-fueled
sun and the dark-skinned arms of men
are etched in glyphs. Everywhere
everybody is a sacrifice.

I am not an optimist but I pretend
to be. It gets me jobs. Secures
my place in the academe. 

Mostly I scribble salt songs
on the back of napkins. Write
dissertations for the fanatics
in love with symposiums and
esoteric words.

Mostly I wish we all believed
in murder again.

This the quiet eye 
of my god.

The Mexica knew the way.
Knew that dismemberment 
coupled with good ol’ blood-
letting was the answer to all
things beautifully violent.

Knew that the heart was the
only organ worth wrenching.

I was born of the Seven
Great Caves. For 200 years
I went searching. Held the sun
in place with my bare hands.

The eagle clawed the nopal.
Juice spurt from the flesh.
Talon and truth.

I, the steampunk modernity
of Quetzalcoatl. All hose,
oil and piston. 

No one needs to colonize me.
I colonize myself.

When Depression and Marriage Happen

blame it on the sad summer air & the pale yellow
light of late afternoon when the bees swath the
lavender bush & the buzzing drives me mad

i have nothing left to prepare in the kitchen or clean
in the mud room & so I busy myself with the hatred of
you & me & the undeserved life we share

we exchange paltry kisses upon your arrival
our lips feign the ooh & ahh of our reunion
there is real kindness there but i never let it in

in 1978 i was born a wild ram
zodiac symbol for aggression
& stubborn to a damned fault

a squall of amniotic fluid & clenched
limbs grey-skinned like the dead
i was cut lengthwise from my mother’s gut 

you know now i was never born at all

blame it on the stillborn air of today’s fever
the mid-June monsoon that flirts but never delivers
the rusted branches of the Chinese Pistache that do not bud

our front yard looks like our first year of marriage
pristine & proper in all the right places
a cozy patch of dirt

in 1983 i entered school a tamed dove
pigtails wound in yarn & cheap plastic
shoes adorned my long eager feet

i let him touch me between the legs
at least five times and told no one
not even the soft-hearted teacher whom I loved

i remember laughing & swatting his hand
playing keep away across the heat of the black
tarred playground & my legs melted mid-run 

you know now i was wicked but didn’t mean to be
you know now i never knew the language of no

blame it on my small voice
blame it on my callous parents
blame it on the migration patterns of this heart
blame it on my drunk brother
blame it on the red-cheeked smear of shame 
blame it on the melancholia and the pendulum of 
my mood swinging 

blame it on

i could have been a bigger brighter version of myself

but blame it on this & blame it on that
& blame you & always remember
to blame them

in 1990 I called the cops on my father at least six times
those boys in blue a dizzying disappointment
not so much as my mother dripping in her sorrow

in 1996 i kissed 15 boys in one night just because
in 1998 a late term abortion
in 2000 i wrote a poem and then buried it
in 2001 i swallowed a ball of light i named the moon
in 2002 a baby broke from between my legs

you know now that motherhood is a martyrdom 
you know now who i am

there is no blame in all of the world that could
help me unlearn the things i have learned

blame and sadness are a rootless endeavor
forgiveness even more burdensome

instead i want to float, hover above my body
airless into the pale yellow heat

let you know that i tried, i was trying
but those bees those bees those endless
incessant bees

keep at their mournful
choir of buzzing 
their pitiful song of
you and me

A Familiar Word

I do. I do love my
family, my daughter of onyx,
husband cut from natural light
my slim brothers like twin fists
who were my first children
and then the mother 

martyr my misty-eyed
foe and friend

and you father

suspended like a lie
an accoutrement to the pithy life
that bore my name

I admire the cruelty, the salt
lick you taught to me, the slap
happy of your tongue

so giving your insults
your five year silences
your glittering anger
but never your absence

I do. I do love 
the choke box, the five
foot chain that splintered
my neck, my wrist, my
shattered ankle that I chewed
through to the glistening bone

to escape
as a wild animal
who keens for its freedom must

that rusted room of yours
with no door
no chink of light to meditate upon

I do. I do
know how 
to love this lie
that tastes of truth 
and salt

that tastes 
of a familiar word
on the tip 
of my blunt shaped

I never hurt nobody but myself and that’s nobody’s business but my own.
-Billie Holiday

The Mother

I haven’t written a poem in your likeness for some time.
I tried.  I took the broom and beat the cobwebs.
Lit one hissing cigarette after hissing cigarette,
Let a dish fall to the floor, a porcelain scream.
I let the quiet shattering happen but could not eek it out.

Then I thought of this. You the young mother,
a knotted belt at your waist, slim and attractive
in photos.  Your teeth gleaming and straight
like a string of pearls.

You hosted one birthday party in honor
of me my whole life. I was four years young
and it was a California Easter Sunday.
The kind of Sunday people move to the West Coast for.

You drew caricatures of rabbits and fashioned
yellow tufts of baby ducks.  Dressed me in
my best cut-off jeans and plaited my hair.
Posed me in front of the cake, the cousins,
the wrapped gifts.

Picture after picture reveals that I was happy.

Mother, you were perfect as a plum then.
Slicing the cake. A knife just a knife in your hand
and nothing more.

I am ten years older than you then.
A whole decade and more of misdirected men
have come and gone for me, a daughter
of my own. Many birthdays have since 
passed that I care less to remember.

And it took me this long to notice
the one thing missing from those
Easter photos that long ago day.

The father.

The Daughter 

The evening that I notice my girl is changing, sprouting
with hair into womanhood, I see crisp lines like
small black lightning erupt from the inverted 
spoon of her left armpit.

The heat presses against the window a boiling
summer monsoon and she is a sweat tangle 
fast asleep on my side of the bed.

The butter pallor of the reading lamp permeates
every corner of my bedroom illuminates the
salt beads that congregate at her temples.

I sit awhile and watch her.

One arm is thrown above her head as if
she aims to catch a pop fly in her unconsciousness.
The other arm pressed to the small bell of her rib cage.
The arm is a branch a bird might perch upon.

The chest rises and falls like a doughy bread.

This is my life’s purpose,
monitor the breath, the hair
that takes to her legs like 
a brush fire across California 
summer hills. To move the
lithe body from one bed to another.
To notice the faint shadow like a dusty 
charcoal above the lip.

I know her body like I know my own.

I am prepared to be prepared for this shift,
this inevitable change of 
the cosmological order of her being.
I am her ordained keeper of body.

And it is when I know,
that I must let go
that the real dying will begin

That mother and daughter diploid cells
will have truly separated into their
own acts of insular creation.

That I must step away and watch
from the light house that all old 
mothers retire.

Now, I hold the golden meiosis of her body close,
this sweaty sleeping girl who almost
slips through my arms, 

walk from the buttery light
of my room and into that greatness
of the long dark hallway.

To the Woman Who Has Become My Daughter’s Stepmother

Your hatred for me is a biblical error,
a misstep or a twelve-year tragedy I should have seen coming.
You probably don’t know this but when your man was my man

he spat on my face once.
I allowed the sinewy rope of saliva to stay
there a bit, sluice-loosed in the corner pocket
of my eye, the thin ridge of my nose.  It glistened. 

Opaque, a rivulet of starry-eyed diamonds 
Above the dovetail of my lip.  A melting pearl.
My daughter has my lips.  It was the end.
The grand finale that all historical tyrants yearn

for;  the last act of warfare or matricide 
or mass swan dive into a suicidal fuck-it-all-I’ve-lost
Hail Mary.  You probably don’t know this either but he ran.
He ran from my doorstep

shrill with fright like a boy who lit the wrong end
of a Black Cat firecracker.  Odd how I
never thought to call on the cops.
Strange how our instincts can be pulverized to a dead end,

a pulp of echoless nerves. Live wires hollowed and sleepy-eyed 
for so many years. But you, with your terrible silences, your 
taciturn cheekbones (high and pointed not unlike my own) so 

colorless your glance and a double-barrel shotgun 
where your vocal cords would be.  Buckshot
choked back and the smoke amasses in my belly,
coiled like a sleeping snake.  Translucent, but

very much there.  Very much real.
It is not enough to call you trigger.  You hate 
me the way he hated me and it makes me hate
myself until I remember that I don’t.

Hate me, that is.

That is an old bone I no longer worry.
To the woman who, after all these winding and unwinding
Years, has become my daughter’s stepmother:
Reminder, her body is not a target.  Her spirit

not a pin-cushion for your sharpened daggers.
She is not your misplaced misanthropic antidote.
When you have imbibed all that is left to absorb
that thing that resembles compassion, remember.

When you have wrung the last dark waters from
The slack wash towel of his heart, remember.
My daughter is not you, is not your myopic version
Of me.  Is not him, a remote and angry island.

She is fidelity.  She is deliberate song and stretch of bone.
She is the impetus of a holy and naïve love.
And lest you forget, remember.  Her mother is a blade.
Your blood itching to be pulled to the surface

“Always this battle, this in-betweeness of the celebratory comfort of self-love and the devastating effects of self-loathing. Always, this tiresome conflict.  What a dazzling train wreck this life.” -  Some random patient said to their psychotherapist.

I Take My Poet Friends to (Briefly) Meet My Dad


I am a master copy
cat copy cat copy
so I mimicked the love
my father pretended or
thought he copied
from television an emotion
that doubled for affection
and entertainment

and when we hugged beneath a bouncy
yellow sun bouncy yellow sun 
bouncy was the embrace 
a tasteful illusion like mimeograph
the poets looked on from
the travel car and admired how
he gave me silver cans of diet
sodas to quench my friends’ thirst

one poet even exclaimed at how
he looked so young and fit
for a man of fifty-five!

but I coulda’ told them that
looks go as far as a commercial
for toothpaste or an ad for Paxil
or a man’s cologne called Brute

and what we take for an original
facsimile always disappoints
so that sometimes the hurt almost
almost almost almost
almost mostly
feels real


and so we drive away
a carload of waxen mannequins
and decide we should smoke
some grass at the park of
my childhood and feeling obtuse
and too-tight in my clothes
after a morning filled with fakery
I lie some more about the
fights I have seen or been in

all my tales are heroic accounts
of girls smashing girls’ faces
smashing girls' faces 
smashing girls' faces
in the dirt right over there
by the swing set or by the
carved out maple trees near
the near-rotted picnic benches
but really the only truth I never
did tell was the time I bullied
a wiry rope of a girl and how
she looked just like me and
called a man father who looked
just like mine hollered 
just like mine
prickly and certifiably insane
like mine

and how that girl died every
evening beneath a bonfire
of sightless stars, fingerless
trees and a limitless sky

right over there in the rolling
green moss that glowed like 
a family secret in the childhood
of my park among the 
white night moths that
fluttered and fettered until
they could fly no more
and finally fell home
to a mass grave of
tiny and individual
green sharp blades.


and I never did tell how after 
each nightly resurrection
the girl worked to gather herself

to heave her way home 
where he waited in the 
house on the cul-de-sac
(just another way to say dead end)
where the light burned in the window 
blanch and white-hot
and empty-eyed
as always

There Are No Words for Addiction

i have been told to fight the good fight
but for all my brain cells and their synaptic worth

i don’t recall why fighting has ever been called
good or detrimental or virtuous and without blame

instead i remember skin beneath the nails
slivers of flesh like half-moons housed at the tip of finger

five digit reminders that I have clawed my way here
i could blame my addictions on you and you

i could pinpoint every sloppy drink and slurred avocation 
but i don’t because i am too lazy for counseling, too sideway

and hidden from Freudian couches and whatnot
so i go on with the bottle and suck the life from cigarettes

so i go on and on and ignore my childhood and i love my sins
i keep them caged like quarantined pets, my little maimed birds

pull them out during the dark hours of the night and on
and on i go plucking the drab plumage from the puckered skin

one feather for the night you opened your wrists and hollered
into the open mouth of midnight forever changing who I was

one quill, a barbed plume for the night you pounced upon my mother
and both tumbled about the couches spilling your savage blood

always the fighting and the self-righteous seething wanting
my forgiveness but still never asking for it

so sweet the fight like a fermented gift, such sugar
rotted fruit to pick from between the teeth

my little beautiful avarices
no i shall hold on to them

they are mine to give, ungive, or keep
and this fight, good or not, is the only thing that keeps me alive

Wednesday’s Wife

I am Wednesday’s wife
and you arrive fresh from 
the train with your crooked
smile and smell of the city
on your clothes and in your hair.

I have been playing good
woman all day –

all day soaping laundry,
boiling tea leaves and even scrubbing
the shit from the dogs’ kennel – 

all in the name of the woolly
musk of your maleness.  I didn’t
find your lost set of car keys, Love
and my disappointment 
was a dangerous sadness.

Today, I cried when I murdered
five blue bottle flies with the hot pink
swatter we bought from the thrift store
their oily bodies smeared across the kitchen window.

How could I mourn such pitiless creatures?
Such insignificant blood?

What new meekness is me?
Where is my flaming bra?

The delightful shuddering
fault line that you provoke,
with a single finger
a sideways glance
stirs me to a maddening surrender.

I am Wednesday’s wife, Thursday’s martyr,
a penny-pinching Friday mother.

I greet you at the door
like a loaf of starch white bread
like a commercial for laundry detergent
or Stouffer’s Triple Cheese Casserole.

I search your eyes for the weather.
It is five o’ clock everywhere in the world.

If you were a woman
perhaps I would 
take up no such issues
with my easy submission

but that was an old courage
that failed me long ago
and the tall masculinity of
you is a familiar robe

we are the newfound 
apprentices to our shared silences
 – waiting 

I could curl up like a lapdog
and let you watch me die
let you crush me with your
oh-so-larger-than-life love

I could slip the knife from
the woodblock and hold it
to my own neck to save
you the time

instead I shave the carrots
with it

insidious in its sharpness
laboring beneath my deft fingers
dicing potatoes, cutting chicken
from bone, paring away the
gristle and fat and meat of life

You settle into your evening
your shoulders a big chair
your comfortable love.

You eye me like a high-ball.

In the kitchen the water
is coming to a frantic boil.

Pots spit an urgent steam
from the side of their 
metallic lips, murmuring 

I lean recklessly
over the open range,
the heat of it enflaming 
the skin over my breasts
ear close as to not miss
a single sound of these 
individual flames
each pan sizzling
a new sing-song
that sounds like this:

Dinner is almost done, dear.
Dinner is almost

Meat, Bone, and Blood

Today is meat.  Living in the body.  Legs are pistons,
boat propellers and rudder.  Mouth and loam.  I swim
close to some lake bottom, pounds of water 
pressing me into a cube.

Still I have to squeeze the oranges
and, in the morning, butter bagels.  Hair to be braided.
Nylon basketball shorts tumble in the dryer.  Daybreak
smells of Air Wick and sunny-side up.

Today is all bones but no time for that.  She has
algebra equations to coax, a button popped
from the top of her favorite blouse.  Dinner
is stinking on the stove top.

Here is the blood.  All stopped up inside of me.
Primordial mud, rusted paste, and iron cells
swimming in the veins.  The day still takes its roll call.
Warm the motor, pump gas.  Idle in traffic.  Drive.

Meat, bones, blood and motherhood.  The tallow of the willful.
Whittle the sound of this litany into your tongue.
The feral love for your daughter 
is a dead giveaway 
of your humanness.

This life rattles along.  Alarm clock, cat calls,
men in suits signing
your paycheck.

The punch clock. The hangover.
The trips to the mechanic and the 
morning commute.
Mid-term early voting and don’t
forget to take your birth control.
The meat, the blood of the bone stewing.

All of your friends think they are sadder
than you.  They pile their stories in
your ear.  Mandibles open and close.
One-upping your depression.

You let them
think so.

Knowing the truth.


this house that no one
knows where it goes when
the lights go down –
porch bulb pops shut
and nobody admires the
calla lilies that die in
the back office, the front door
that closes like a suitcase
or a coffin lid or a boulder
wedged into the mouth of catacomb

incense smolders without the
usual admirers and the naked
lady collage I created
one sweaty summer ago wears
tiny beards of dust
not in the least bit pornographic
or offensive in the way I had

for none of my best provocateurs 
come ‘round here no more
to pay their sordid respect
or to drink up all the beer

that is how it goes these 
days the spider webs pile
in the corner and the laundry
may lay around for weeks
who cares but not you
or I or her as we simper
and a glowing lady painted
to hold hands with her glowing
self is the only impervious
shrine of beauty left
to burn above our watery bed
the only thing that reminds
me of home

this is where nowhere goes
to be left alone and 
no, I do not love it here
but I love you and for you
I name myself effigy
burn my way through seven
layers of hell until Judas himself
tells me to leave, leave already
all ready to leave?

The Poem I Most Fear

In my happiness still 
I burn, burn with the mad-eye of a jewel on fire
green like the stink of money or those silly sheets 
we bought from the Mexicana
dollar-store that one incendiary afternoon 
we drank, drank that funky wine.

I should have known since that limp-dick night 
we met at the bar, the stars, stars
would twirl like a drunken debutante and fall 
sometime some weekend like a toppled religion.

Love is a damned thing, ain’t it? 
All honey-eyed and beer fog brimming 
with promise and thoughts of processed sugar
green Kool-Aid and a lifetime of white 
picket fence fucking.

Don’t ask me to write a poem about your legislature, 
your esoteric double-tongued
political agenda, all the starving babies starving 
in this god-forsaken vacant land—

I know misery too.  My thighs ring true with this sadness everyday. 

Don’t say my poem ain’t 
woman enough.  
That I ain’t 
soft enough for you. 

Love is a foolhardy 
verb, a trite vowel.  
A mean little slit 
of a bitch.

Love be
that cowardly night I said,

I do.

A Poem for My Breasts

The striations are present.  The puckered zipper scars like trolley tracks.  The brown nipples my daughter never suckled. One small cherry mark on the left tit that I name Blood Star and an assortment of punctuated moles, heavy with the lack of touch.  Notice how our areolas sleep like nesting snail, warm mollusk body cupped by bra.  I wish this were a love letter or a Nerudaesque ode but you are thirty years of slanted rain.  I write this braless, without blouse and warmed by the dapple of white sun bleaching the skin.  
No, I lie to you breasts.  I sit twisted as always into this vise grip of black satin, underwire sneering.  The padding, the lift, the lace and trellis of the pinched breasts.  This embarrassingly expensive bra. 
Understand that I hoped for you before I knew what you were.  In my embryo sleep of dark matter and inner space, my phantasmagoric fever, I sought you.  First for my mother’s, and her already having cut them from her chest, there was nothing left for me.
And then for my own to rise like swelling tides, like a labored moon and tethered star.  I courted the both of you.  With the wistful mirror gazes of adolescence.  The kneading of the tart nipple, the pull, the stretch of skin.  The bemoaning vigilance that my body should open into symphony at last. 
And in the anger of spit I lashed at you. I despised you like a father.
When you finally rose like a dusty bread know that I never treated you like a spring break calamity. When you sat dripping with unused milk I mourned.  When you slept dreamless I let you rest.  When you became hardened soured apples I let you live.  When you drooped like eyelids I let you be photographed.   When you pushed against another woman’s body I let you sing.  When you agreed to take a husband I vowed we should always be free.
To my first fleshly children who grew despite me, I owe you something holy, reverent. I owe you an apology.

1 comment:

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Superb poetry! Very high-achieving Latinas are special gifts to society, just as any high-achieving woman/girl of any color is a treasure. May their gifts and beauties be nurtured more and more as our society evolves.