Published on Academy of American Poets (


In the republic of flowers I studied
the secrets of hanging clothes I didn't
know if it was raining or someone
was frying eggs I held the skulls
of words that mean nothing you left
between the hour of the ox and the hour
of the rat I heard the sound of two
braids I watched it rain through
a mirror am I asking to be spared
or am I asking to be spread your body
smelled like cathedrals and I kept
your photo in a bottle of mezcal
semen-salt wolf’s teeth you should have
touched my eyes until they blistered
kissed the skin of my instep for thousands
of years sealed honey never spoils
won’t crystallize I saw myself snapping
a swan's neck I needed to air out
my eyes the droplets on a spiderweb
and the grace they held who gave me
permission to be this person to drag
my misfortune on this leash made of gold


Copyright © 2017 by Erika L. Sánchez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The poem began during a trip to Portugal, where I became enamored with the traditional fado music. They say saudade is untranslatable, but it’s a word that feels like an old familiar cloak to me, because I’ve spent so much of my life ravenous for both the past and future.”
—Erika L. Sánchez


Erika L. Sánchez

Erika L. Sánchez is the author of Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf Press, 2017).

Date Published: 2017-04-10

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