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Two Poems by Maya Garcia

This is a Body 
and this body is this thing of terror—how 
in this world every 
woman is a survivor and every 
survivor is a knife hardened by sorrow and dread, how 
the act of existence is this wretched thing
on its own.

So you became obsessed with how to live without a body—
Cut your hair, listened to music in a language
you couldn’t understand, broke your ankles and never
allowed myself to weep, tried to leave an archive of yourself
but always found it empty, tried to spend a year on Venus
but your VISA application was rejected twice.

And good god how you tried—you made penance,
you made the bed in the morning and
made the sign of the cross and
forced yourself to forget
over, and over, and over again
until your lips stung, but
the body never forgets—

So this body can be the place where working
men go to die, thank god, I’ve found some use for you,
funny how you don’t
need to forget, distracted in the darkest of places,
and I don’t know how to put it gently
so I’ll say it the only way I know how—
the body becomes a thing of terror when you
live in it for too long, and it’s
easy, and I’m tired after all.


Requiem / For Victor Gutierrez
Until Victor’s body is uncovered in a pile of rubble,
until Roberto Clemente’s plane crashes into the
Atlantic Ocean in the same week until
Papi’s little heart learns about the fragile
nature of loss for the first time, how his
abuelo’s tired hands still clawed their
way to freedom even as he took his last breaths, how
it is not always good for a man to be brave after everything else.

And it is not good for man to be alone,
and Abuelita watches each of her children
leave for the land of the dead,
one by one, one year after the next, with
only feeble prayers cast for protection

And it has to be the land of the dead—for
here they kill children, here they
consume you over and over, and expect you to like it, for here
the end of the world is a welcome reprieve
when the alternative is finding your father buried in a pile of rubble, yes,
all these sun-soaked afternoons bleeding into each other,
they will bring us nothing and
that nothing is kinder than home

so a small group of rich white men got
rich off your Abuela’s dead children—so
you were asked to live with it, so you found
yourself staring down an empty subway platform
wondering how dare to sleep in the United States, how
a place like this could hold anything other than grief
so your tia slips a fifty dollar into your hand
as she kisses you goodbye it means
everything everything everything.

Somewhere else, Ronald Reagan, despite promising
to never negotiate with terrorists, does
not break an embargo with Iran
in exchange for the
release of American hostages meaning there’s
no eighteen million dollars sent to
far-right Contras in Nicaragua meaning
meaning no revolution, meaning
no priests are murdered for capital and somewhere else,
Gary Webb walks his daughter down the aisle
at her wedding after a boring career of local journalism
and Clemente lives to see his own
induction into the baseball hall of fame meaning
Victor evacuates the building in time meaning he
brings his children and grandchildren to church and continues
carrying the candies in his pockets meaning
Vladimir does not leave his home, meaning
he inherits the white pick-up truck he
was offered in exchange
for not going to America and drives it
into the sunset forever, meaning that the United States
remains the land of the dead, for the
time being at least, meaning he is never another undocumented
man working with his brother’s papers meaning
I am never born, thank god,
I am never born, meaning somewhere else
there is a world that is plentiful
but that world is never here,
thank god that world is never here.

Maya Garcia is a writer and poet based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received a dual Bachelor of Arts in English and Puerto Rican and Latino Studies from Brooklyn College in 2020 and an Advanced Certificate in Labor Studies from the Graduate Center of New York in 2021. She has received fellowships from VONA, The Watering Hole, and Brooklyn Poets. Her work seeks to understand the intersections of womanhood, Latinidad, and working-class identity.

The featured image pairs “Your Mouth (from Les Vieilles Histoires)” by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1893) with “The Duke of Gramatneiss’s Famous Pack of Birds (Die Berühmte Vogelmeute des Herzogs von Gramatneiss)” by Moriz Jung (1911) — images chosen specifically for this piece by our Art Director, Meg Sykes.