It's no curse
dragging my belly across
the steaming sand all day.
I'm as thick as a callus
that has shorn off its leg.
If you find me I can explain
the trail made by a single limb.
I am not a ghost.
Do not be afraid.
Though there are ghosts here—
they strip down to wind
or slump against rock to evaporate.
Sometimes I crawl beneath the shedding,
backing up into the flesh pit for shade.
Praise the final moisture of the mouth, its crown
of teeth that sparkles with silver or gold.
I make a throne of the body
until it begins to decay.
And then I'll toss the frock—
death by hunger, death by heat—
off the pimples of my skin.
Don't you dare come into my kingdom,
peasant, without paying respect on your knees!
What generous act did I commit
in my previous life, that I should be
rewarded with this paradise:
a garden in which every tree that takes root here
drops its fruit eye-level to me.
La Pelona as Birdwoman [excerpt]
Tonight I dared to crawl beneath the sheets to be nailed down around me, waiting for my lover, she who enters without knocking, she who will unstitch my every seam along my thigh, my side, my armpit. She who carves a heart out of the heart and drops it down her throat. Sweet surrender this slow death in sleep as I dream the love-making is autopsy. How else will I be hers completely? Be her treasure box I said: a trove of pearls and stones, the ding of coins cascading through her fingers. The bird over her shoulder not a parrot, but an owl to be my mirror when I close my eyes and shape a moon-white bowl out of my face where she can wash the hooks of her caress.