Published on Academy of American Poets (

:: Searching for My Own Body ::

Which is to say that like a good theoretical objectified body, my identity was created not by me but by the various desires and beliefs of those around me. 
– Daniel Borzutzky
My body is a small cave door                     
it’s a slick whale 	a jubilant
sea of tall grass that sways
& makes its way across countries          
& lovers             I love	        love-making
I don’t remember a time when             
I wasn’t interested in touch
I have these breasts
& some 	         would want to come     
on hands 		      & knees to worship them               
call me flower   	      or         	       desert
Maybe I was only supposed to be
stone or a baby eel                    
long & layered		          a nun?
I don’t remember ever saying  
              yes 		      just	 no
I am searching   for my own body    
not the one I was told is so                    
I want to be always  open                
	     like a canyon
Maybe I was only supposed to be           
tree or temple              
In some circles I am
just an open gate          
a sinful  bauble  

Once someone said you are 	       this      
& I  never questioned it

I am searching		           my own body   
for        	        God      

or someone like her—


Copyright © 2018 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I was in a room full of women, discussing the #MeToo movement, and it was no surprise to me that we were all survivors. Later, the one man who had been in the space says to me, ‘I was shocked. That was a shock. Were you shocked?’ And I just said ‘no’ quietly, sitting with the heaviness of twenty women of different backgrounds, faiths, identities, upbringings, everything, having suffered a very similar fate at the hands of men. Much later, I came back to the Borzutzky quote and tried to unpack it against my own sense of self, my own love of body, of consensual touch, and maybe even tried to give some power back to these women. I think I was trying to figure out how I had not gotten to this poem sooner.”
—Yesenia Montilla


Yesenia Montilla

Yesenia Montilla is the author of The Pink Box (Aquarius Press, 2015). A 2014 Cantomundo Fellow, she lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2018-12-12

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