Mother Devour

3.28.2018 / 1.31.2019

Vintage Mexican Postcard China Poblana (Teyacapan) by Teyacapan

Vintage Mexican Postcard China Poblana (Teyacapan) by Teyacapan


a mother’s home catches fire

ceramic sculptures of Christ rest 3 deep on fireplace mantles
a burner simmers frijoles & chili
the smell of cinnamon, sage, onion,
and cedar permeate the old, brown wood of home
while brass paperweights marked with fingerprints
glow golden sacramental in the wake
ninety-five salt + pepper shakers adorn the red shelves lining the kitchen
and everything screams

a voice is born
the moon is mourning
a flash fire meets gas
men in loose t-shirts and sleep in their eyes rush with great urgency / the flames
mama shouts but her screams are muffled by the cry of dogs
the sky breathes ash
tames itself grim by light of the moon

the space between the front and back door become one tunnel of red-hot blue green fire
a wormhole a trapdoor the entrance and the exit
she can see her children, huddling
in the warmth of their struggle and the cold of their breath
the stone hearth crumbles, glass breaks
her arms find theirs, wrap over,
ivy in the wreckage, spun as a shawl
woven / like wool and like husk
one child lay sprawled
under the clothes line, calm
eyes half-moon-closed / chest, still
the eldest, his arms receding back to earth at angles like yucca
underneath the shadow of the dried plum tree

there she cries
a slow rush of sky and moonlight penetrate her once cool breath
she dies a collective thirty-eight years tonight
a solidarity passage with her sons
from origin story to afterlife
the chain link fence does not set fire
a tricycle melts
she breathes and for a moment forgets how to live
mi luna, mi vida
in ten years time, i’ll light a candle
to remind myself of a birth reborn

a mother’s womb catches fire
a plum tree bears fruit


Paricutin Volcano Postcard Michoacan Mexico (Teyacapan) by Teyacapan (flickr)

Paricutin Volcano Postcard Michoacan Mexico (Teyacapan) by Teyacapan (flickr)

My mother’s hands


Phoenix, AZ, auntie Pita & uncle Sixto’s house, circa 1992

Mama used to tell me this story about when I was a baby, under two years old most likely. I woke up from sleep in the middle of the night and would not stop crying. I was my parent’s first born, so naturally they were attempting new things daily. This night, they tried everything from bottles of milk, pacifiers, stories, cuddles, singing, rocking, music, moving from one room to another, until they decided to take me on a drive. It wasn’t until my mama took my hand in the car, from the passenger’s seat to my car seat in the back, and started softly caressing the tips of my fingers did I stop crying and finally rest.

They say physical touch is one of the single most important aspects of baby-raising. A language made physical, the brilliance of infant brains and brilliance of infant bodies are made stronger through touch. Aside from the rise of oxytocin, a hormone released during (but not limited to) cuddling and physical contact, the histories communicated through touch is unique. Further more, endemic knowledge of brown mxthers is unparalleled, influencing future generations through a multitude of expressions.

Throughout my childhood up until I was a teenager and before I moved out of her house, this was a ritual my mom and I would do. We would relax at home and watch movies with my two younger sisters on weekends while my dad was at work or out of town and she would take my hand in her’s, lacing histories into me through tenderness. When we were walking together in public places, unknowingly or not, she would trace circles around my fingertips and I was immediately calmed. Between our busy schedules, after Sunday housework, during late-night conversations in her bed while some Lifetime movie played in the background, this was a gift she gave me.

It’s no wonder I became a writer, the weaving of stories through fingertips seems more native to me than anything.


Me, mom, & dad, probably age 1.5, but my mom’s style is fire

There are undervalued and underappreciated acts that black and brown womxn do daily for the survival of their loved ones and the families they build. It’s often times less about coming to new conclusions with these acts and more about tapping into deep-rooted histories. We learn through story-telling, through traditions, through reworking traditions, through acts of love. We survive and we thrive through going against the grain. My mother was instilling and rebuilding these traditions of survival within me, unspoken resiliency.

The fact that I am alive today is in part to my mother’s courage in the face of colonial politics. Assimilation and violent imperialism has played its part in our lives but that is for another day. Today is about appreciation, about hands, about comfort, about strength.


December 1990, my first Christmas


The creek, baby days

Hands, for me, are often times an incredible depiction of someone’s authenticity. I was fortunate to be born with typical body parts for a human baby: two legs and ten toes, two arms and ten fingers, all my organs were healthy and working, I had a full head of black black hair, I was born a day late. (Sorry For Making You Wait, Mama, & Sorry For Trying To Come Too Early: The Saga.) But hands have always been the portal to souls, touch, a gateway to spirit, growth by means of the non-verbal.

I’ll say it again: The fact that I am alive today is in part to my mother and her intelligence. This wisdom and celebration of matriarchs and femmes in black and brown communities is the reason for the survival of our people. It is deeper than biology. There are vital roles played, relationships that span through time and space and generations. I would not be around to tell my stories today if it weren’t for the mujerxs in my life. To that baby in the back seat screaming her lungs out, we hear you, and we urge you to keep screaming. To the mama in the front seat thinking too hard about how to comfort, we see you, and we know you have infinite knowledge within your bones. To the ancestors in our histories passing knowledge down through traumas and wisdoms, we feel you, and we know you will continue to guide us.

To my mother’s hands, you saved me.


Flintstone’s Bedrock City, Williams, AZ, circa 1993 probably