• By Kiana Perez-Granados (she/her)
  • Art “The Boxer” by Brian Donnelly (he/him)

I remember our dark times,
I hear your terror in the womb,
the whining and groaning like phantoms of regret,
the ghosts of shame or ghoulish doubt,
but you leap with me in your ivory belly,
we dance in the cul-de-sacs of Salinas
and your smile grows to a truth,
fruition of the possibility of contentment.

Your lonely passage is in memoriam.
There is a skeleton of you buried in my soul,
in a prayer’s pose; you believe God is all you have.

Even as you grow flowers in your body,

tendrils jabbing
you beneath the sun,
roots feeding from your flesh,
they will serve you.

Each poppy bulb in spring
lifts their heads to see your proud stride,
to watch you embrace the impending presence.

Your infrastructure stretches,
your muscles and fibers surrender,
you welcome me.

You are a titan, my hovering sky,
a woman with strength
found in the grooves of her teeth.
You are a furnace to smelt my passion,
it is my rage for you!

You are continuity,
daughter of moving forwards.
You are the ballerina’s aching toes
that cramp and crunch themselves
to coil and spring


up and up!

Do you feel me as I tug on your aching bones?
Do you feel me contort your flesh,
halve your soul?
Your thighs are like the shivering walls of a tunnel,
bleach cold gloves ready to retrieve me;
a spectacle of a sixteen year old,
you see the air break against my skin
sharp enough to signal my brisk wailing.
You cling to the hospital bed’s rails,
follow my body with your eyes.
Your Sunday tears cling to my pores like water and sand;
staining my infancy with your caution,
your voice is a strum guiding my blind sight.
They toss me in an array of voices and textures,

But you are my beacon,
infusing my eyes with peace,
I am a moth to your amber light.

We take flight;
you swaddle me with a mother’s grip
and smile at the ground left behind.
You invite me not to accept stillness,

is in our
blood to move.

Forever, I honor you,
I eulogize your youth,
I speak to the young girl,
my gracious husk,
not a shell to be shed
but ironclad armor.
       I take you with me,
             hold you close,
                         hope that it will love me
                                       the way it does you,
                                                 the gift of