I. Juanita Gutierrez
Juanita says she was born from egg crack, from the sound of egg cracking before the yoke slips out, the pause before the yolk drops & grasps the mucus white & falls together. Her mother says Juanita is made of sand mixed with spit and arroyo water hardened into egg shape, says Juanita fools the others saying she is egg, says Juanita was born when a man’s finger bore into sand and it bloomed into a body, says Juanita fell screaming, says Juanita coughed dust and never cried. Sand-eggs can’t bloom: Juanita says. I find this debatable.
Juanita is still screaming. Her mouth fell out and she learned to wail through her tear ducts: the sound was hard wind in dry arroyos. Anyone who heard stayed from shadow for two days, grouping under streetlights like blue-black moths. When her mouth learned the success of eyes it returned and learned to cry. Now, it weeps with ease.
It wept when she screamed this story:
I constellate. I’ve carried heavier loads then your heart: you who tries to give it to me. The saints speak on Fourth Street, Mexican silver in their teeth, they say I cannot, we cannot stand it. They say you cut through anger like breath rising from smoke, separate, and the air around is sadness.
Juanita knows three pronouns: they, I & you.
And then I changed, she said, and said: Slip me on like a coat in summer. Sweat into me like baptism, like your pores grow wide as philodendra, like you feel the oil between your lungs. I scream you turn me inside out. You do.
The air breathes Juanita.
II. In Albuquerque
Juanita is watermelon-apple mountain. Juanita is blue lighting fingering the orange-white. Juanita mother says her mother is immaculate. Juanita says she is conception.
Juanita is coal rising. Juanita is lead sinking. Juanita is on her way to the mountains and never gets there. Is sagebrush, is tumbleweed imported, is cottonwood shedding white onto the ever bright daytime. Now is mating season for cottonwoods: paint chipped off
The Rio Grande. Who painted it? Juanita’s mother says. We did, I say. Parts of us did, she says, and parts of us want it back.
III. Juanita’s Favorite Poem
When I Can’t Tell It Again and You Still Wouldn’t Understand Anyway
by: Martha Jean Goodman
I will pull my tongue out like a
clownwith scarves down her throat: fist
over fist, knot over knot: yellow
blue, green, polka-dot, until
I reach the end
where my story bobs
dark and wet like a fish eye.
you will look and say: “Oh,
that’s what happened to you”
and I will want to say: “yes” but
won’tbecause my tongue is piled between
IV. She knows no words for color.
Juanita refuses to learn words for color. Red is her head back to its limit with her nodes flaring beneath stretch of scar. Blue is her chest stretched over her thighs. Like bird, mother says, like bird. Orange is arms outstretched: she wants to wrap them. The world, Juanita says. There is no movement for brown, there are hundreds: brown of feather in dead bird, brown of river when it’s low, brown of sage in winter, brown of earth ready to grow, brown of sand where nothing can, brown of ground at Chimayo: consumption equals salvation, brown of high desert where rabbit is, brown of rabbit, brown of tree trunk, brown of lover’s skin, brown of lover’s skin imagined, brown of a lover’s skin gone. Stop, I say, too many. Too many.
V. Juanita Screams Nightmare Seams
I stood at arroyo and threw them in. Girl looked like father, boy looked like me. Water came like earth breathing and inhaled. I knew father would feel guilty, would stop cheating. I went over hill to home and knew who was guilty. I ran to arroyo. I ran to place but earth was empty. I lay until earth breathed again.
After, I did not go to them. I could not hold them and say sorry. I scream until I find them. I hold children like root on rock. One must stay. One must believe I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. No word in language for desperation/fear/love/anger. It was that. Come to me children. Stay with me. It was that. It was only that.
VI. Juanita says Juanita wants to die.
Juanita is hands pulsating red in center. I say, you think this is stigmata? Juanita says every day is old wound open again. Healing knows ending. How long do I wait? I ask. You are sacrificed, Juanita says. To what? I say? God is cold, Juanita says. God reaches into body and pulls bones into God. God touches solid to show you have solid. Once there, doesn’t leave. Cold ruptures.
They say God is warmth, I say. Warmth is arms around you and cannot touch bones, only touch softness Juanita says. You want a God who wants softness?
VII. A poem of Juanita’s mother’s.