Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Guadalupe, Star-Horned Taurus


That I commune with the dead as I oil your feet. My house at the

throat of the river, the door to this world, I wait for you. That I

ask of the spirit and receive the knowledges: yerbabuena, vela de

virgen, baño de alhucema. Cut the joint at the hoof & fatten the

soup. Accept this offering, thank the plant. That I love you with

the knowledge of our ways lost to violence. That you will call me

up from the silt in your bones.



On my final night on this earth, the smoke pours from my nostrils.

I cut the cards. The melon in the moon, the rose climbing a ladder.

Thick coins in my cup. That my heart closes its fist. That my body

succumbs to its constant nurture.



What you will say in my memory: that my serenity. That my

softness. That my skirt is the sky pattern. That the cedars kneel for

my passage. That my laugh was kind. That your feet carry my body.

That I am the helix the roses climb. That the illness spreads north

as we cross. That these are the end days. That heaven groans blood.

That I have scienced the stones into a circle. That they speak of

failure. My daughters.



Agony in the garden.

O, Casada



& what night will reveal you / your shifting camouflage /

your every plausible story / I too end up wedded to / the

apologue of my mothers: / mountain panther /

undetectable / you hunt from aloft / & in all your

enigmatic unseen / all I can do is resign / to sleep singing

/ in the clean canyons / I have cleaned / await until I wake

alone // the stranger children who too much resemble you

/ my inarticulate love / lately all I remember / of your face

/ is the back of your head / as you walk away / I lay next

to / a body of absence / so untouched I am / again a new

bride / and so I make and make a home for you / I raise

and raise the sun for you / learn to listen to the women /

in my bones / who have already survived you / & don’t

you know it dear / you are not so imperceptible / I see it

all now / with my body / a knowing so inherited / I am

pregnant with eyes


Vanessa Angelica Villarreal author photo

VANESSA ANGÉLICA VILLARREAL was born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Buzzfeed, Epiphany, Southern Indiana Review, PBS Newshour, Poor Claudia, Apogee, and elsewhere. She is the author of the collection of poems, Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series, 2017) and is currently pursuing her doctorate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She is a mother to Joaquín, a pile of trucks with a human child in there somewhere, and Niko, a cuddle puddle in the form of a dog.