How to speak

Alana de Hinojosa



this land is
endless ash wood, a stone
thrown into a lake after heartbreak, that
sea blue plunging,
a plow reaping the muddy bones
that I am still learning to read,
or the fragrance of skin and jasmine, buds
stretching toward sun
and blocked
by a window where a veiled woman suns herself
as she sits on fringes
of a cuffed language, rising
& pushing her hands against
glass, the indigo aspen eye
& the undercurrents
of oblivion, watching
calling out
to us


here I am admiring fire
flies, recalling polished sailboats from childhood
against the image of makeshift rafts
printed in distant ink
sinking in the sea
as the burning copal candles from abuela’s room
float across the crow
black horizon, her prayers
then & now,
their bodies
go & go
& I am here, still here
applying lotion &
wishing on a fallen eyelash,
counting the days till I know I am home

at night I dream of kissing (you)
not the brown curls of an infant’s head
entering this world, gushing
through pink skin against
mediterranean waves,
passengers’ mouths holding their breath,
its mother’s body gripping
the chapped lip of a boat,
the curly black cord ripped
with teeth,
thrown overboard
& eaten by a silver fish


i imagine a crane glowing in the night
wading through the river that separates me
from the country of my mother
& taking flight
above the gulf of méxico
migrating against instinct, east
& eating a silver fish


how to speak this crane blue
that unites
that remembers
more than we do.


Alana de Hinojosa was raised in northern California, and earned a B.A. from Hampshire College and is currently a doctoral student at UCLA’s César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies. As a poet pursuing a cultural and ethnic studies dissertation concerned with histories of migration, displacement and erasure, her methodology considers how various texts and materials, across form, genre and language(s), imagine alternative poetic geographies.

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