Cornflowers

By Brenda Cárdenas Brenda Cardenas
She says my hair smells
like corn tortillas.
I raise an eyebrow.
After all those honeysuckle
and papaya shampoos,
I can’t believe my scalp
hasn’t soaked up
the scent of blossom
or the perfume of rainfall.
No, she’s my mother,
and she insists
that even as a little girl,
my whole bedroom breathed
corn tortillas.
 
Pressing nose to pillowcase,
I search for masa,
reach back before
molcajete and plow
to a dusky meadow,
its bed of soil flecked
with teosinte,
ancestor grasses.
 
Up through the dark
follicles of my skull
covered in sun-cracked husks,
push the black-brown silk strands,
cocooning thirsty kernels.
Maíz sprouts into fields of thought
bearing hybrid rows of words
that fall like teeth
from the mouths of the dead.

Brenda Cárdenas, “Cornflowers” from Boomerang. Copyright © 2009 by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe. Reprinted with permission.

Source: Boomerang (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Brenda Cárdenas

Subjects Living, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Brenda   Cárdenas

Biography

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Brenda Cárdenas is the author of two poetry collections, From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press) and Boomerang (Bilingual Review Press), as well as the co-editor of Between the Heart and the Land / Entre el corazon y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest. She writes in a blend of English and Spanish, which she has said reflects her interest in “the interconnectedness and . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.