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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.

Touched by Dusk, We Know Better Ourselves

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 father’s chin in shadows. I try 
to tell you about distance, though my body

unstitches, fruit of your shoulder lit by the patio 
lamp, grass of you sticky with dew, and all

our unlit places folding, one
into another. By dead night: my face in the pillow,

your knuckles in my hair, my father whipping my 
back. How to lift pain from desire, the word

safety from safe, me, and the wind 
chatters down gutters, rumoring

rain. I graze your stubble, lose my edges mouthing your 
name. To love what we can no longer

distinguish, we paddle the other’s darkness, whisper 
the bed, cry the dying violet hour; you twist

your hands of hard birches, and we peel into 
our shadows, the losing of our names.

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
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
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
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