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)
More Poems by Brenda Cárdenas