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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 15, 2015.
About this Poem 

“I’ve been exploring the notion of translation equivalence for some time, having produced multiple English versions of a poem of mine in Spanish titled ‘Equivalencias’ through various translation methods. Becoming aware of Stieglitz’s Equivalents series of photographs of clouds—among the earliest to engage abstraction—prompted me to expand my project. For this poem, I tried to describe complex interpersonal dynamics using only the narrow vocabulary for the nuclear family.”
Mónica de la Torre

Equivalents

My child is my mother.
There is a perpetual tug of war
between the child in my mother
and the mother in my child.
My spouse is not father to my child.
The man who is lover to his mother—
he too is childless, having been
son to his grandfather, but not brother
to his mother, or son.
The self-evidence of terms
designating family ties
masks the entanglements.
Is it folklore, the assumption
that a man will choose a lover
over his children
and that a mother her children
over her lover?
In this, the man and I,
we are equivalent.
We each have our records.

Copyright © 2015 by Mónica de la Torre. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Mónica de la Torre. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mónica de la Torre

Mónica de la Torre

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mónica de la Torre is the author of the poetry collections Public Domain (Roof Books, 2008), Talk Shows (Switchback Books, 2007), and The Happy End/All Welcome, forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2016. 

by this poet

poem
I.
You thought this would be 
a dance lesson,
things were easier then.
No marimbas, no clarinets;
only a longing for the fun
to begin.
Rain came down.
Nothing seems as remote
as the days you didn't 
have to think about it:
always already there,
gushing out. Control
was required to stop ideas 
from overflowing.
poem
I. Before Breakfast


When the sun turns gray and I become tired
of looking at your many-colored shoes


I will give you balloons for all the holes
we speak too much to fill. Who believes


in air, nowadays? Or do you prefer tea
with the dried fruit I will have to throw out


the window of your room? Because I
poem
                  Sonya's so good that all the guys 
pick on her, so the evening's narrative goes. I've heard she wears 
yellow t-shirts each time to match her hair. Last time her tennis 
shoes got so dusty that she had to throw them out because there 
was no way on earth that they could be white again
2