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Soneto de Silueta

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Untitled, from the Silueta series, 1980, by Ana Mendieta

For Ana Mendieta

Mud learns to live with mites, worms, beetles, and ticks.

And Lioness digs up the earth where a warthog cowers in his den.

You know you are loved when she tears you to bits, brittle thing.

The lioness tongue softens you up all the way to her bottom.

Roots, straw, weeds, rain your crown, hija de Ochun.

Even Earth’s suffering arises from pangs of  love.

When Lioness fangs diffuse the blood we call it liberation.

Wax hisses from the smoldering wick, curtains you draw go shoosh.

The last earth imprint you ever left on asphalt from thirty floors up.

A shoe curved from the work your instep leaves behind.

The breath of the lioness heats up your shoulders and your neck.

A genetic photograph of every cell that ever lives exists in a lioness mouth.

She tears into the riverbed and root hairs clog her claws.

Ancient bacteria get all up in you.

Control the fire and it burns deeper, flashing life into sleeping embers.
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Untitled, from the Silueta series by Ana Mendieta, museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program © 1980, Estate of Ana Mendieta.
Source: Poetry (March 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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Soneto de Silueta

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  • Kristin Naca, also known as Iyawó, earned a BA from the University of Washington, an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska. Her collection of poems, Bird Eating Bird (2009), was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the mtvU National Poetry Series.
    Naca’s poetry explores her multicultural Puerto Rican and Filipina heritage, sexuality, and interest in linguistics. A selection of poems in Bird Eating Bird are written in Spanish, a language that Naca learned in order to better understand her Puerto Rican background. In an interview for Bombsite.com, she explained that “the poems document my mouth conforming to the sounds of words.” Naca also described the process of intense revision in completing her collection as “doing reverse taxidermy, refitting the poems’ skins around clouds of ideas.”
    Bird Eating Bird was a 2010 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and Naca was awarded an Honorable...

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