Self-Portrait in the Year of the Dog

San Antonio, TX, December 1970

It’s nearing the end
of the year and the woman who will be
my mother is pushing
stickpins through the eyes
of sequins and into styrofoam globes
until each coated orb ornaments
the tinseled tree. Her body
is full of the curled question
mark that will soon be
my body. The woman who will be
my grandmother is biding time
at the five and dime stockpiling
supplies to fill my mother’s idle
hands. All along she’s carried
me low—
                    how I’ve known
from early on to position myself
for descent. When I enter
this world, I’ll enter as Hecuba
nearing her end: purpled
and yelping griefbeast,
my mother’s spangled

From Year of the Dog (BOA Editions, 2020) by Deborah Paredez. Copyright © 2020 by Deborah Paredez. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd.,