Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Janette Schafer: Two Poems

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.

3 comments on “Janette Schafer: Two Poems

  1. Barbara Huntington
    November 30, 2020

    Thank you. Love poetry in the morning

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rosemaryboehm
    November 30, 2020

    Absolutely LOVE both. The first one is part of my childhood experience. So well expressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. russell buker
    November 30, 2020

    Love these poems as we all connect with our pasts

    Amaze

    how is it this
    swelling
    foot lead me
    from
    the bed to you
    you
    who lurk in fold
    of
    mind that dismisses
    any
    thing but fear of
    not
    having enough time
    to
    get it all down
    again
    before sleep takes
    hold
    and I must wrestle
    with
    those masks that
    want
    to parade night’s dark
    interior
    and exhaust my sleep
    till
    the tingling then ache
    starts
    the story all over
    because
    I did not get it
    right
    the first time
    again
    while my coffee grew
    cold
    I still do not know
    what
    I’m conscripted to
    do
    amazing you

    Russell Buker 11/29/2020

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on November 30, 2020 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , .

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