Naked Wanting

Margo Tamez

A Species

At the jagged-knife edge of a maguey
I glisten on blue, thick skin, like orgasm
in the nectar-swollen labia, monsoon
heat inside the throb, wet
pulp that is before, and after
all that was needed to become.

The prongs open widely,
lift like muscular thighs
to receive the sun's movement.

I lived in a womb
that grieved a fetus.
My mother never spoke
of the dead.

Instead she picked at her cuticles,
made the frayed edges peel back,
exposing a flesh,
pink and firm, like salmon.

In church, my father
grabbed one of her hands.
Cupped it firmly between his.
To stop her.

I looked at her hands
when we sat in the pew,
the only memory of her
sitting down. She resisted.

At mass, her shrouded eyes
accused not heavenward, but eye-level
through the webbed sockets
of her black veil.

She was the abyss.
There were animals inside her,
ancient and dark
as the ocean floor.

I was conceived in the womb
of a woman disturbed
with a man
she called life.
Born from a body
that swallows a child,
like a throat that aches
when it pushes back grief.

I peer over the tired Formica table,
its wide chrome rim rutting my breasts.
Chin against the smooth cold,
I watch her hands—
the snap of palm,
flesh of her wrist,
a tortilla from hand to hand.
I inhale the balmy butter.

I think a secret:
this is how you give.

I eat,
and the body is mine.

The hands return and return,
mend holes in small dresses,
look for patent-leather shoes
I lost at St. Thomas More,
find the cigar box I hid under my bed,

my hair clips, and pieces of her
Mexican jewelry inside.
Her hands stab large, black pins
through the thick coil of her bun,
hold a small cloth-bound book of the Virgin
she bought at a yard sale,
palm-size sewn covers,
the frescos my fingertips memorize.
All these I put away in my box
and fasten the lid on the scent
of stale cigars.

She grinds herbs down to powder.
Her granite molcajete,*
is the beginning of us. She
remakes her family in this bowl.

The ground-up garlic, cumin, and coriander
scent her house,
rise into my brain,

place her in my dream.
In the dream she is sleeveless, she smiles
and cuts her long black hair
for my sister's birthday,
each strand of hair
tied to a balloon . . .

I came from moon-eyes.
Pushed through the membrane,
slipped out songs of wailing woman.

I dream:

from the abyss
flows her
through me.

*Aztecan mortar and pestle

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