Published on Academy of American Poets (

Portrait of Atlantis as a Broken Home

              I swim down to 
              look for our four-
              chambered house.
                            The window
              in our room still leaf-
              darkened, its bruiselight
              charged with fault. 

Am I very lonely? 

             I age in reverse until I am as
             small as my child
             body, my chest swollen
             with bright longing

             that the walls will not always
             greet each other 
                           in collapse—

The lord is kind.

             The underworld is lit by half
                          -moon as if to say, none
                          of this is evidence,
                          only decay.

             In the drift, this wreck still looks like a life:
             everything still hanging is relieved
             of its weight like an archer’s arrow
                           suspended in rags 
                           of snow.
             I hunt the me
             that made this heavenless night,

             my young fear circling your
             false beacon, its low
             stars and difficult earth stacked
             immense against
             every fact—

I should be funnier here:

                            Underwater, iron sinks

                                                                            weightless as       

               a kite 


                      through peaks.


Copyright © 2019 by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 25, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote the first version of this poem while living in Colorado in early 2013. Newly married and homesick during an unusually dark and snowy winter, the poems I wrote during this period were affective mappings of the terrain beneath memory, its deeper ruins stored in the body. Like Lorca's idea of the cante jondo, or deep song, "where the ruins of history, the lyrical fragment eaten by the sand, appear live like the first morning of its life," this poem is denied a clear narrative and has to dive into the wreck to unearth a more visceral logic from its lyric fragments. Oddly, this poem, among others I wrote during this period, have startled me in their prescience when I come back to revise them—what the body already knows, how a poem's intelligence guides us, early as it can, toward the first morning of a new life.”
—Vanessa Angelica Villarreal


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).

Date Published: 2019-06-25

Source URL: