A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
We Eat the Clay “When we leave our hunger will go with us.” Natalie Diaz We eat cakes of masa and mud burned for want of oil or fat in Abuela’s last good skillet. The mud cake assaults the belly, threatens to leave in a shower of bile. My niñas cry— Mama, it is so bitter! We need agave, we need a bit of cream, the taste is black, the coal clings to our tongues. and if their stomachs were not so empty, if their ribs were not drawn and pulled inward, we would hurl mud cakes against the wall, cast them into the forest or river, burn them in our fire while there is still wood left to burn. -- Ode to my Birthmark My Abuelita had one on the same leg, the left one, as did Tia Alicia, brown with ragged borders, an island on a map There is a Pemón legend that birthmarks indicate how a past version of yourself has died, a scar from an ancient mortal wound. I think we must have all died together, witches three, a coven and a covenant, a brand on our limb that says yes, we will return together. I trace my finger on the nubby moon rock surface, a protuberance from the rest of my skin. This is one part of me that is brown like my ancestors, connects me to them, marks a spell so I am not the pale witch left behind.
Janette Schafer is a Venezuelan American writer who lives in Pittsburgh. She is the author of Something Here Will Grow (Main Street Rag, 2020).
Copyright 2020 Janette Schafer.