“Our psyches resemble the bordertowns [. . .]. Nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.”
            —Gloria Anzaldúa, “Towards a New Consciousness,” Borderlands/La Frontera

You wrote of communal ground, prepare  
beyond culture to unite us. All to hold us, in 
bind, Gloria. Awareness of situation before inner  
change. Inner change before societal change. I do  
not mistake this for an equation. To develop  
unencumbered, we must understand our own 
split: from history, from language, from each of our faces— 
the situation: intentionality behind the dominant
white culture’s thoughts & actions to cull us. Realness  
of our fabrication of real. Pock holes in the real to remake

the real. If we ask the llama to explain their relationship  
to the heard. Silence. Someone thinks sumpter animal
Someone thinks beast of burden. In the high alpines 
of the Andes, the cousin vicuña moves at night among 
steep slopes & festuca, continues to resist domestication. 
Ask the vicuña, Who do you serve? Silence. Someone 
mistakes the lack of sound for acquiescence. Someone  
labels a wild thing sacred. Someone labels a wild thing 
dangerous. Someone doesn’t like the use of animal 
or thing associated with their personhood. Someone

wants more animality, less human. Collapse the word 
human into its embodied history of colonized with-
holding meant to deteriorate a body not white. I label 
myself animal. Reach knuckles & wrists inside my throat 
to pull & gather all the gutturals within my tissues. I wonder who 
labels me dangerous now. A word is a bordertown. Belief in 
vocabulary means we carve ourselves out of plurality. Town  
before the town. & the outer terrains sculpt from the inner  
terrains & a mouth held shut still resides in a cerebrum firing— 
thinking & voluntary muscles controlled by the same organ. 

Copyright © 2023 by Felicia Zamora. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.