151 total words    

1 minutes of reading

She says my hair smells

like corn tortillas.

I raise an eyebrow.

After all those honeysuckle

and papaya shampoos,

I can’t believe my scalp hasn’t soaked up

the scent of blossom

or the perfume of rainfall.

No, she’s my mother,

and she insists

that even as a little girl,

my whole bedroom breathed

corn tortillas.

Pressing nose to pillowcase,

I search for masa,

reach back before molcajete and plow

to a dusky meadow,

its bed of soil flecked with teosinte,

ancestor grasses.

Up through the dark follicles of my skull

covered in sun-cracked husks,

push the black-brown silk strands, cocooning thirsty kernels.

Maíz sprouts into fields of thought bearing hybrid rows of words

that fall like teeth

from the mouths of the dead.

Reprinted from Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations, Vol. 4: Persons.

“Cornflowers” was originally published in Brenda Cárdenas, Boomerang (Bilingual Review Press, 2009) and appears here with permission.

  • Brenda Cárdenas

    Brenda Cárdenas’s books and chapbooks include Boomerang (Bilingual Press); Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors, with Roberto Harrison; Achiote Seeds/Semillas de achiote, with Cristina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico; and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press). She also coedited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas has served as Milwaukee’s poet laureate, co-taught the inaugural workshop for Letras Latina’s Pintura : Palabra, A Project in Ekphrasis, and is associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
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