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About this poet

Sasha Pimentel was born in Manila and raised in the United States and Saudi Arabia. She received an MFA from California State University, Fresno. Pimentel is the author of For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017), which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Gregory Pardlo, and Insides She Swallowed (West End Press, 2010), which received the 2011 American Book Award. She currently teaches in the Bilingual MFA Program at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives in El Paso, Texas.

My Father’s Family Fasts the Slaughter to Feast the Arrival of His Bride

Ilocos, Phillippines

What did she permit him to see, my mother, the first time
he brought her to the ocean—the goat, hungry—mewling
in the distance while my mother shrugged her shirtsleeve 
down, her shoulder fragile in new day? Or was it her wrist 
which implied the unfreckling of her forearm? The susurrus 
of flycatchers . . . softened bleats of starving. A hawk is circling 
closer. What do we see when we see? I can see my mother,
but never my father. His shadow darkens her arm. Her breast

sinks to a curve we three know—, and there’s enough time 
for hair to come loose, the popping of a button. A rat reveals 
himself in the corner the way a woman tenses in and out
of light—: and my mother is coming to that point of breath- 
lessness, humidity speckling her birdwing clavicles—
and the goat’s hooves rustle—: above mud, before harm.

From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with permission from Beacon Press.

From For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Sasha Pimentel. Used with permission from Beacon Press.

Sasha Pimentel

Sasha Pimentel

Sasha Pimentel is the author of For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017). She lives in El Paso, Texas.

by this poet

poem
You map my cheeks in gelatinous dark, your torso  
floating, a forgotten moon, and a violin

crosses the sheets while you kiss me your mouth 
of castanets. I believed once my uncles lived

in trees, from the encyclopedia I’d carried
to my father, The Philippines, the Ilongot hunting

from a branch, my
poem
Morning, and light seams
through Juárez, its homes like pearls, El Paso

rippling in the dark. Today I understand 
the fact of my separate body, how it tides

to its own center, my skin crumbling from thirst 
and touch. The sun hangs

like a bulb in corridor: one city opening 
to another. When did my heart
poem
                       Lost softness softly makes a trap for us.
                                                —Gwendolyn Brooks

Michael’s skin splinters below the water’s line, his navel and all murky and lost
like a city from my old life, or