This week in our series highlighting the poetry of Southern Latinx writers, we share “Iconoclast” a poem by Andrea Beltran exploring memory and devotion and “Domestic Violence,” a searing poem by Iliana Rocha, “From this distance, we are becoming ever- / softening echoes of each other.”
Read more from 'This Work Will Take Dancing' here.
there was a full glass of water on the table. there was a book turned upside down. there was a memory of a book in which a woman writes about God making her choose images of Him and she chooses the only one without a face then wakes up naked and afraid. birth, I think. death, I think. there is a memory of a woman who said people name holes God. a hole is either something that was emptied or something that needs to be filled. there was a yellow pillow. there was a memory of another book in which a woman writes about not wanting to know herself without having known her lover. there was another table with two mechanical pencils. there was a blue pillow. there was me, another woman, surveying all this while thinking about the faceless solitude my ex-lover and all I want is to wake up naked and afraid next to my lover’s body, read his skin, its hum. there was the memory of the broad-tailed hummingbird trying to make up its mind. speaking of inconsistencies, there was the catalog of artificial Christmas trees addressed to a stranger that came five months too early. there was the thought that people are impatient to celebrate God/Jesus when it involves gifts. there was a time I didn’t know the difference between God and Jesus. there was a time when I didn’t know the difference between a husband and God. like a cookie for Santa Claus there was a desiccated prickly pear on a porcelain plate. I ate it the way I ate my wedding ring and bled just the same. there was an empty box of sanitary napkins to console me. there was also the memory of the time when my mother agreed with my decision to run away and the only thing I packed into my pink Cabbage Patch suitcase was my ceramic Jesus statue with a mess of rosaries around its neck—matte pastel beads—and atop Jesus’ forehead grew something that resembled a prickly pear. there was archeological research that tracked the life of the prickly pear back to 65 B.C. there was a time I believed every history that was handed to me. there was a time when I confused the word believe for bleed. there was a full glass of water on the table. there was a book turned upside down. there was a memory. there was a book. there was a woman.
To relearn how to drive in the rain—
slippery saliva on the city’s tongue
in slate. A song propels despite
the radio, & I wonder how many people
listening have to pull their cars off the road
because it’s so beautiful.
When it’s over, a dedication: To my late wife, Betty—
this is how I felt about my life with you.
From this distance, we are becoming ever-
softening echoes of each other.
Our landscape was one rock was piled on top of another.
No, not piled, the guide in Arizona
corrected, but a fissure made more
of a fissure over time—unlike how
my mouth fell into my hands: a brutal
swipe of coral onto my thumb, then the entire
scream in my palm, the color of the South
Rim with its yellows & aubergines.
I’ve tried to carve away this nothingness
with the spoon of my car, as I pass a trailer hauling
cows with fluorescent pink numbers
scrawled across their lazy haunches, another
truck with several windshields filed in its bed,
my careless tailgate of blood & glass.
Like you, the rain is more hologram
than tear, more sugar than skull.
I can almost feel it between my toes,
almost gently enough to want you through.