A Cartography of Passions

1996

i.
here: our forsaken home

mesa breaks desert
dialing curve of mountain

territory of anthropology
of the outlaw

where you taught me how to shoot that .22 real good
rifle butt steadied against the shoulder socket

a wild pulsing third arm

postures of stillness and reserve
practiced cunning of the predator

in the end         shattered
bottles among cowering piñones

here: the natives have never been safe

ii.
curious sentimental boy intent
on the romance of expedition

clever cynical woman intent
on the Romantic trope

mi cielo mi mar mi luna mi tierra
language of Spanish occupation

diligent engineers
we divide and enter

mapping for future travels

the sheets marked, desk cluttered:
pencil shavings graphs incomplete stanzas

metaphors and equations
of isolated fixed points

like Malinches we are left
harboring the remains of one

another's labor

iii.
la migra       your mind

skilled at expulsion
vigilant surveillance

those refused entry interest me
those forced to settle elsewhere

ours is a patrolled encounter
my mind is what interests you

creases of cerebrum     electric
streams coursing through these fissures

a landscape ripe for excavation

you are brother to Isabella
in devices and commands

always the agenda
the missionary plans

and like the others
you will insist on exile

and I am no Circe

no magical powers
no victim of narrative

just a woman with these few words
a woman who has peered through the barrel of a loaded gun

leaving nothing intact






Deborah Parédez, "A Cartography of Passions" from Floricanto Si: A Collection of Latina Poetry. Copyright © 1998 by Deborah Parédez.  Reprinted by permission of Deborah Parédez.
Source: Floricanto sí: A Collection of Latina Poetry (Penguin Books, 1998)
More Poems by Deborah Paredez