Mujer Malvada

To La Siguanaba

I sprout from your black
waters—arms rooting 
to earth, bajo luna del lago
Coatepque. I am birthed
from your memory, given
a new skin and hide
to brush and braid, ashes
de Izalco dusting my hair. 

My hands, still my hands,
marked by your myth:
calloused, rope-burned, 
nails sharpened to blade.

My face, still my face,
goes missing sometimes
(just like yours, Sihuehuet.)

My body, my body,
safe because you took
yours back. Safe because
you took theirs instead. 


Copyright © 2023 by Janel Pineda. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 3, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“This poem is addressed to La Siguanaba, a mythic figure who appears across Central American mythologies as a demonic, vengeful woman with the face of a mare who lives by the river and preys on evil men. Diasporic reclaimings of La Siguanaba recognize her as a survivor of violence who was cursed by the rain god Tlaloc to a haunted existence as a way of silencing her. In this poem, I honor La Siguanaba (originally Sihuehuet) as a protector, and dialogue with her as a broader symbol of Central American women’s resistance against gendered violence.”
—Janel Pineda