[No strawberry moon]

No strawberry moon for me, tonight. No strawberry moon. This small house creaks when I walk and open it. I have to weigh it, to goddess or not tonight. Goddess or godless. God is in my sleeping children’s presence tonight. I use words like god when I haven’t seen the strawberry moon, less when I haven’t been so generous. It’s not about gender—ess or less—but heft of the weight. Inside me like a baby. When people procreate. Romance a dashing thing. The harvest upon us. Will we feast or collapse in exhaustion tonight which is every?

More by Emmy Pérez

excerpt from "Río Grande~Bravo"

We cannot tattoo roses
On the wall
Can’t tattoo Gloria Anzaldúa’s roses
On the wall
Roses grow in the earth of white-winged doves
The doves coo all day with roosters at Valle de la Paz
Cemetery, the panteón in Hargill near La Sal del Rey
Where deer snort warnings
From the monte, warn visitors
Because the freshwater puddles near the saline lake are shared
And deer prints outnumber all others, wedge prints fill with salt
And when the sun beats down on the washed-up body of a crystallized frog
I remember Prietita having to kill and bury her fawn
Before the game warden arrives and incarcerates her papi

And I remember a gardener tending flowers
Was thrown by a car carelessly backing up fast
In a McAllen strip mall parking lot. The gardener
Forced a dizzy smile, spoke only Spanish when he finally stood up.
He didn’t want to call attention to his presence
On this earth,
This strip mall earth. And so the driver zoomed off.

And I remember the parakeets eating bottlebrush seeds in spring
Their anxious huddling in fall on urban electric wires
I remember buying cascarones on a spring corner
After my own accidents
I remember Brownsville’s red-faced parrots
The ancient tortoise at Laguna Atascosa
Hundred-year-old sabal palms uprooted for the wall’s concrete footing
I remember the confluence of river and Gulf at Boca Chica
And the fisherwomen, men, and children across
At Playa Bagdad, Matamoros

I remember wanting to plant and water roses
como las palabras de Gloria, como la gente
Del valle, como mexicanos in the borderlands

*

*

And when I wake up in the morning feeling love
And when I wake up in the morning with love
And when I wake up in the morning and feel love
And when I wake up in the morning already loving
How the body works to help us feel it

November

It could be the jaguarundi’s
Blood on my face

[Magic needed]

Magic needed. A letter to Lorca. Outer space martians to help me translate. A letter I write and sign by Lorca to introduce my poems. Love poems to the beloved. Lorca or Gloria or Jack Spicer needed in the absence of a beloved. Someone who understands María Sabina’s wisdom. A chachalaca as a pet.A glass of water for the dead, to help in their journey crossing. The dead and the not-yet. Sometimes I think I only have water to offer. Dark ruby tunas needed, easy to cut from the tops of cactus paddles. Life offers its appendages. Trim the drooping tree limbs before hurricane season, before we mourn their violent losses. But white-winged doves have their nests in the branches. Nighthawks visit. Bats. Bats keep flitting through the neighborhood. Once, I was attacked by a snake and a bat, my beloved totems. Real visceral pain in my thigh and neck woke me up like seeing the agent reach for his gun. It’s still there in his hand, in his holster, keeps rising like the walls that put me to a deep sleep, a sleep that needs The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes to wake and find Sappho’s golden chickpeas growing again along the riverbanks.

Related Poems

There Is a Bird in My Mouth

I found it on your belly, and caught it
with two fingers. I kept the bird
on a little perch behind my ear.

I plucked its feathers, stuffed them
against my jaw like chewing tobacco,
and spit the black threads

into a styrofoam cup. One night
the bird died. Crushed beak, split
bone—we did it. Your heart

jealous, my body disgusted
by the taste of seed and bark—
we didn’t want the bird.

We did it over dinner,
you reached into my memory
by placing a finger

in my ear. I placed a hand
in your mouth to catch the bird
and we smashed it

together. This is simple, we did it
and spoke of it with ease. Through
the memory, we killed

the bird that was never ours.
Now we’ve become
bird butchers
, you say

and throw the bird’s limp body
in the trash. I reach to clasp
your face, but have lost

both my hands. Each finger
disappeared into your pupils,
our little black cruxes.