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About this poet

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima::Limón, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press, and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing, 2015), winner of the PEN American/Joyce Osterweil Award, the Great Lakes College Association's New Writers Award, the National Association of Chicana/o Studies Book Award, and the Utah Book Award. She teaches creative writing and Chicanx literature at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

For My Son Born in La Mariscal

Ciudad Juárez

You bob & spit & bite
     at my breast. You are my private
colony of sharp stones. I burn
     your umbilical cord to ash.
Come, meet the spirits. Before
     your birth I thought you an eyeball
bruised purple. I have no crib
     to leave you in, but a maizena cardboard box
& a blanket of my thick dark hair.
     I have done many things to feed your body—
open-legged, dark-thumbed
     things. Things for the price of what I
can endure in thirty minutes before
     breaking. I know I can’t keep you,
but even stillborn I used the blood
     I gave you to wash my legs clean.

Copyright © 2017 Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima::Limón, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press, and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing, 2015).

by this poet

poem

I found it on your belly, and caught it
with two fingers. I kept the bird
on a little perch behind my ear.

I plucked its feathers, stuffed them
against my jaw like chewing tobacco,
and spit the black threads

into a styrofoam cup. One night
the bird died. Crushed beak, split

2
poem

of water with a bed of rock barely visible
from your surface. You are the only dark body

of water in a desert littered with bleeding cactus.
At your collarbones you carry a gulch, held up by a thread

of hair. You travel days drinking only from yourself,
because you are this land’s only

2