Published on Academy of American Poets (

If They Are a Silueta

after Ana Mendieta

If they are a silueta 
But I can’t make out where one begins and

If in the breakdown of the body there
Is nothing but smoke

If I get inside it
And try and make love to what is there and
Not there
If I feel that it wants me anyway
But I am trying hard for it to not be an
It but a they them he she initials and stars


Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Buzzeo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The silueta is the shape that Cuban-American land and performance artist Ana Mendieta made famous in negation and also references the sculptures of women found across so many different ancient cultures. It is both the goddess and everywoman; it is featureless, just a body—or in Mendieta’s take the body emptied (or outlined or echoed) in presence and absence and part of an artistic collaboration of care across time. This poem, part of a larger section called ‘If I Am a Silueta’ moves from the ‘I’ to the ‘they’ and is from a manuscript in progress, a poetic memoir called ‘Writing.’”
—Melissa Buzzeo


Melissa Buzzeo

Melissa Buzzeo is the author of The Devastation (Nightboat Books, 2015). 

Date Published: 2017-02-08

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