About this Poem 

"The mapinguari is the Big Foot legend of the Amazon, though the mapinguari only has one eye and a second mouth in its abdomen. I wrote this poem after a friend suggested I write about something that seemed human but wasn't. I felt like cryptids and other myths must know loneliness better than any of us."


—Traci Brimhall

The Last Known Sighting of the Mapinguari

Traci Brimhall

Before she died, my mother told me
I’d make the monster that would kill me,
so I knew this was someone else’s death
creeping into my field, butchering my cow.
I recognized its lone eye and two mouths.
Perhaps it mistook the lowing for the call
of its own kind. I didn’t mind the heifer—
she’d been sick for weeks, her death a mercy—
but her calf circled, refusing to leave even
as the creature pulled out its mother’s tongue,
fed one of its mouths and moaned from the other.
The intestines glowed dully in the moonlight.
The calf bawled. The disappointed mapinguari
sat, thousands of worms rising out of the split
heart it held, testing the strange night air.
I’ve outlived all the miracles that came for me.
My mother was wrong and not wrong,
like the calf who approached the monster
and licked the blood from its fingers.

Copyright © 2013 by Traci Brimhall. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 4, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Traci Brimhall

by this poet

poem
The first time I saw my mother, she'd been dead 
fourteen years and came as a ghost in the mirror, 

plucking the hair beneath her arms, and humming 
a bossa nova. She lotioned her chapped heels 

and padded her bra as if she were alive in the old way. 
She said I was born with my cord wrapped 

around my neck
poem
We crawl through the tall grass and idle light,

our chests against the earth so we can hear the river


underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books

that hold no stories of damnation or miracles.


One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper—

one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by