Poem of the Week | January 02, 2017

This week, we are proud to present a new poem by Analicia Sotelo. Sotelo earned her MFA from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Best New Poets 2015, The Antioch Review, Forklift, Ohio, The Collagist, Meridian, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Nonstop Godhead, was recently selected by Rigoberto González for the Poetry Society of America’s 2016 Chapbook Fellowship. Sotelo has received scholarships from Squaw Valley and Image Text Ithaca, and is the 2016 Disquiet International Literary Prize winner in Poetry. She currently lives in Houston, TX.
Author’s note:

Though I grew up in South Texas, my grandparents had a ranch in West Texas that I frequently visited. This poem takes a good amount of visual notes from those landscapes. The mood of the country—spare, brush, wild—is something I can’t forget, and I wanted to give this poem the epic feeling it gave me back then. I was also interested in a Persephone who lives in a hot, dry place—a place without seasons. How curious would she be about a colder way of life?


South Texas Persephone


Some day the ground will open up
and swallow me.


Some day I’ll be swept


through the sand, and the grass
will become my crown


of burnt paper.


And he will be there: tall,
steel-toed, eyes like ice in whiskey,


handing me my first drink.


In the bar, we’ll dance to a song I hate,
but I’ll cling to him anyway.


This is the darkness of marriage,


the burial of my preferences
before they can even be born.


This is my set of sins reaching out


from a frozen lake, where
the smoke of his breath is interrupting.


Look now: my heart


is a fist of barbed wire. His heart
is a lake where young geese


go missing, show up bloody


after midnight. I don’t say
a single thing.


My dress is deep green, knotted,


feathered at the seams.
O, isn’t this


what my mother never wanted?


Now I have three heads: one
for speech, one for sex,


and one for second guessing.