Xochiquetzal Candelaria


Fragments of her poems exist, a line
sometimes eight,
one scrap found stuffed in the mouth
of a mummified cat.
Let’s say we know this as we know the cat
once roamed
light-footed through a garden
of hyacinth and violets,
inking between the legs of guests,
sheer linen
dressed dancers, lute players.
Everyone drunk.
In one jump the cat lands on a white washed wall
between shards of broken glass
on a cliff giving way to the sea.
Its silver rimmed eyes
reflect the tincture of moonlight off water,
a lucency
that also falls through the branches of a fig tree
into the room of two women.
The older one
mouths something to herself over the young one’s
white breasts,
something like let me see this forever
before she cries for the simple way the breasts darken
as the shadows shift.
The young lover, who will leave by morning,
turns toward
the wall,
offers only her hair a dark,
a tangled nest,
the aging woman will remember,
and later call, despite the absence of light,
the evening star.
What kind of creature does this?
Reinvents the body despite the body’s rejection?
Imagines dust and debris
of love’s collapse to be great arms in the bed of the sky.
Who gathers
from hair constellations,
feeding them
to the hungry strays that call through the night air.



"Sappho "first appeard in Gulf Coast, Winter/Spring 2002, volume XIV, #1.