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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

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Victor got a real sense of power
from making his own raisins. He’d buy
pounds and pounds of grapes
and leave them to dry 
on the kitchen table.


Theresa didn’t want to hear about 
her ex-husband’s cancer. Not on Father’s Day.
She took a train all night 
to have breakfast with her cousin. 
All Sunday she rode
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I.
You thought this would be 
a dance lesson,
things were easier then.
No marimbas, no clarinets;
only a longing for the fun
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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 
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Describe what color is not.

It’s missing a thingness.

To the point of becoming, color camouflages supporting structures.

A vague interior finds in an exterior specific correlation.

Even if shapeless, it materializes in splotches, bursts, or blobs.

How mood-like