Straight as a nun I sit.
My fingers foolish before paper and pen
hide in my palms. I hear the slow, accented echo
How are yu? I ahm fine. How are yu?
of the other women who clutch notebooks
and blush at their stiff lips resisting
sounds that float gracefully as
bubbles from their children's mouths.
My teacher bends over me, gently squeezes
my shoulders, the squeeze I give my sons,
hands louder than words.
She slides her arms around me:
a warm shawl, lifts my left arm
onto the cold, lined paper.
"Señora, don't let it slip away," she says
and opens the ugly, soap-wrinkled fingers
of my right hand with a pen like I pry open
the lips of a stubborn grandchild.
My hand cramps around the thin hardness.
"Let it breathe," says this woman who knows
my hand and tongue knot, but she guides
and I dig the tip of my pen into that white.
I carve my crooked name, and again at night
until my hand and arm are sore,
I carve my crooked name,
This third collection builds upon her previous writings and new experiences to provide a healing voice, additional depth and maturity, and an international perspective in considering the art of poetry itself, male/female relationships, separation from children, homeland, tradition.
"Mora's collection is aptly titled: her poems often reveal a communion of sorts between poet and subject that inspires the poet's empathetic, imaginative response."—Betsy Colquitt, Texas Review of Books
"This collection is rich, spirited and promising, and it makes me want to read more of her work."—Hurricane Alice, A Feminist Review