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Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. She is the author of the poetry collection Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, 2017). She is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award in poetry and is currently pursuing her doctorate in English literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

By This Poet

1

Corpse Flower

Yesterday, the final petal curled its soft lure into bone.

The flowerhead shed clean, I gathered up your spine

and built you on a dark day. You are still missing

some parts. Each morning, I curl red psalms into the shells

in your chest. I have buried each slow light: cardinal’s yolk, live seawater,

my trenza, a piece of my son’s umbilical cord, and still you don’t return.

A failure fragrant as magic. Ascend the spirit into the design. 

My particular chiron: the record that your perfect feet ever graced

this earth. Homing signal adrift among stars, our tender impossible longing. 

What have I made of your sacrifice. This bone: it is myself.