after Leonora Carrington
after Tracy K. Smith
Daughter, you need to grow into your body,
understand its dimensions,
how to move in this world.
I tell her this as she mops up water
from a glass she’s knocked over.
She is constantly bumping, tripping,
leaving frames askew.
She hides in hoodies & sweats,
but the girl is all legs, taller than me
at thirteen. I want her live in her body,
not padded in layers of fabric, shoulders
hunched, veiled in long hair, behind
glasses. Push it back, I tell her,
I want to see your pretty face,
in the voice of all women, telling all
other women how to be seen.
She talks of feminism, tells her brothers
Mami will disown you if you are not
a feminist; quick to bark, quick to snap,
to claw, to sink in a tooth.
Arrows & daggers at her feet
& her moon head overcast, as she watches
wide-winged geese circle her body. A family
takes refuge between her ankles,
us or her future family. A lumen cape
hangs from her shoulders, but the egg—
all sun—she holds close to her chest.
How to be a tower, a pillar
of confidence, to inhabit that body
at thirteen, still surprised to be on this earth—
how is it that things work? Do you want to play
a game with me? She wants to skate on smooth
streets, go out into the world without someone
shadowing her. She wants to live in her skin.
I bite back my anger at her awkwardness,
show tenderness for the fawn stumbling
to find its legs, mewling kitten. She is far from
these helpless animals. Wolf at the foot
of her bed, she draws or reads, curtains shut
in a freezing room. She doesn’t belong to me
as much as her body belongs to her.
I look up to her, rising stories
above me, rising above her own body
&—haven’t I seen her
elsewhere & before—she
is what waits to be said.
Alexandra Lytton Regalado
Alexandra Lytton Regalado’s second poetry collection, Relinquenda, is winner of the National Poetry Series (Beacon Press, forthcoming fall 2022.) She is the author of Matria, winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Alexandra is a CantoMundo and Letras Latinas fellow, winner of the Coniston Prize, and her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets, Narrative, Gulf Coast, and Creative Nonfiction among others. Her poetry has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2018, The Wandering Song, Misrepresented People, and others. Co-founder of Kalina publishing, Alexandra is author, editor, and/or translator of more than fifteen Central American-themed books. She is chief editor at lapiscuchamagazine.com (a literary magazine dedicated to the Salvadoran community) and she is assistant editor at SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami). Her ongoing photo-essay project about El Salvador, through_the_bulletproof_glass, is on Instagram. For more info: www.alexandralyttonregalado.com
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