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.