Between the House and the Hill

By Xochiquetzal Candelaria Xochiquetzal Candelaria
This boy lying face down
in my sleep pushes around jars of jelly,
waking me the night he is found

so I can drag him from the wet ground
and clean his blackened belly,
this boy lying face down

who is somehow bound
to me, this hunted herdsman, refugee
waking me the night he is found.

Am I to dress him in an open gown,
bless the holes in his chest with tea
leaves? This boy lying face down,

permeating even the simplest sound,
with the crack in the door he slowly
cries, waking me the night he is found,

lips parted to my blue-black ground,
whispering red vetch inside me,
this slender boy lying down,
waking me the night he is found.

Xochiquetzal Candelaria, “Between the House and the Hill” from Empire. Copyright © 2011 by Xochiquetzal Candelaria. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Empire (University of Arizona Press, 2011)

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

Poet Xochiquetzal Candelaria


Subjects Living, Health & Illness, The Body, The Mind

Poetic Terms Villanelle


Xochiquetzal Candelaria earned an MFA from New York University and has received multiple fellowships, including those from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of Empire (Camino del Sol, 2011), which poet Cathy Park Hong called “a sensuous and lucid meditation on lineage, from the haunting and mythic narratives of [Candelaria's] ancestry to her tautly drawn memories of . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, The Body, The Mind


Poetic Terms Villanelle

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.