Delirious,
touch-starved,
             I pinch a mole
                          on my skin, pull it
off, like a bead—
             I pinch & pull until
                          I am holding
a black rosary. Prayer
             will not cool
                          my fever.
Prayer will not
             melt my belly fat,
                         will not thin
my thighs.

                         A copper-
faced man once
             called me beautiful.
                         Stupid,
stupid man.
             I am obese. I am
                         worthless.
I can still feel
             his thumb—
                          warm,
burled—moving
             in my mouth.
                          His thumbnail
a flake

                          of sugar
he would not
             allow me to swallow.
                          Desperate
for the sting of snow
             on my skin,
                          rosary
tight in my fist,
              I walk into
                          a closet, crawl
into a wedding dress.
                         Oh Lord,
here I am.

More by Eduardo C. Corral

All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands

Josefa Segovia was tried, convicted & hanged on July 5, 1851, in Downieville, California, for killing an Anglo miner, a man who the day before had assaulted her.


Are the knees & elbows 

     the first knots  
 
                     the dead untie?
 
       I swing from a rope
 
                     lashed
 
       to a beam. Some men
 
along the Yuba river
 
               toss coins
 
         into the doubling water.
 
                   Visible skin.
 
            Memorable hair.
 
     Imagine: coal, plow,
 
                     rust, century.
 
                 All layers
 
         of the same palabra.
 
                                       Once
 
I mistook a peach pit
 
               on a white dish
 
         for a thumbprint.
 
   Wolf counselor.
 
                       Reaper.
 
             Small rock.
 
   The knot just under
 
       my right ear
 
whispers God is gracious,
 
             God will

increase. The soul,
 
                   like semen,

       escapes
 
the body
 
         swiftly.

Cayucos

 boats used by African emigrants
   to reach Spanish islands


A girl asleep beneath a fishing net

Sandals the color of tangerines

Off the coast of Morocco

A moonlit downpour, God's skeleton

Bark, dory, punt, skiff

"Each with a soul full of scents"

Day after day spent shaping

A ball of wax into a canary

Little lamp, little lamp

The word "contraband" arrived

In English in the 16th century via Spanish

Throw your shadow overboard

Proverbs, blessings scratched into wood

The tar of my country better than the honey of others

Related Poems

Afterwards

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
     And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
     "He was a man who used to notice such things"? 

If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink,
     The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight
Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think,
     "To him this must have been a familiar sight."

If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm,
     When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn,
One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should
        come to no harm,
     But he could do little for them; and now he is gone."

If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at
        the door,
     Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees,
Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more,
     "He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"?

And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom,
     And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings,
Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom,
     "He hears it not now, but used to notice such things?"