Song for the Womyn
We will hurt each other.
We will hurt each other, manita.
But that doesn’t mean that I will forget you.
I will not forget that you were there to shield me from his
blows and to catch my
first born baby boy, and water my flowers
while I nursed him, after you helped
him find the strength to suckle
and helped me find the strength to let him.
We will hurt each other, comadre,
But we need each other
more than we need our pride.
Because while one of is bitter about the way
this one took the man she had yesterday or the other one
she wanted tomorrow,
another of us is weeping into the burnt sopita,
because there isn’t a clean dish to serve it on,
desesperada from the baby’s cries and
hating herself for slapping those little cheeks.
And we cannot forget, neglect, or abandon her.
We will hurt each other.
We will hurt each other, manita.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still
braid each other’s hair.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t
weave the ribbons in to catch the strays.
And at the end of the day,
scratch each other’s tired scalps as we let the
strands loose and whisper “piojitos, piojitos”
just like mama used to do.
This is a beautiful thing,
these trenzitas we make together,
that we fashion into bridges that keep our
feet out of the cold water,
or that we can tie around our waists and our wrists,
so that if one of us wanders too far,
she can find her way back to her sisters.
I used to know you, completely,
always. Kneeling before you, relishing
the pain in my knees, washing your feet with my
black ancestral hair
never tiring because I was an obedient
one. My unseen master,
vengeful and dead, moving me with guilt
and sorrow, until I woke to find you missing.
Now I don’t speak, but listen,
my heart searches the skies for your voice,
longing to be trapped and choked by you.
Now the candles are lit in vain,
I grip the relics and plead at the feet of the
dead while you say nothing.
You die every day, taking me with you
like a starving dog, pregnant and paralyzed.
Neglected, I stand alone
under empty skies.
Some nights, I stir under your touch
in the dark, but wake each time
to cold and darkness, nothing more.
I climb a mountain
for you, to be closer. I look out over the
sister city, smoldering in her abandonment.
We must survive this fire,
scarlet sparks and flames that peel our skin.
While you look on,
there are houses
in which beautiful women exist
and the hounds sniff at their doors
and leave foot prints in the flower beds
and scratches in the wood of the doorframe
there are women
who think them puppies
and bring them in to the sacred warmth
and feed them from their breasts
and forgive the teeth
sinking into their nipples
but my mama didn't raise no pendeja
i know better
than to let a
When I dance for you,
my feet are stomped raw,
and I leave my copper blood, dark
brown and savage in the places where
my toes have twisted into the wood
I would feed you the skin, if
it didn’t hurt so to tear it
from where it hangs
dying on my feet.
I would cook for you,
and watch you eat me,
ignoring the fire left behind
in my fingers by the seeds of the
peppers, green and red. I’d let you think
I was smiling for love of you, but when I smile for you,
my lips split in the places where
I’ve chewed them in angst.
Copper blood drips
onto my tongue;
I am eating myself.
I would spit it in your face,
if the thought of your skin smothered
in my saliva and in my blood wasn’t so terribly
Something Like a Woman
I can lift my gaze
up, like a woman
because my bare feet have withstood
the hot sand
because my thighs have kissed the ocean
because my belly was more full than the moon
and I have nursed
her because I have bled
and cried and because
I have tended gardens.
I have tasted butterflies between my lips
and dragged my fingernails over the
shoulders of lovers.
I have been alone
in the dark and I have not wept.
I have shimmied hips
and draped with jewels I have
melted and dripped.
I have burned and I have frozen.
I’ve been slave and I’ve been master
and I can lift my gaze.
She presses herself
against the sun-bleached
walls sometimes for relief of the heat.
Her breasts, embroidered with the memories of fingertips,
heave like sand dunes under the breath of the sun,
and pieces of her fall away
grain by grain
into the air,
into other deserts.
This temple, without one to
worship at her altar, to weep and sing
on bloody knees and tremble in awe as she tends the
will burn herself down, will melt the chains
that tease her wrists
and her hips.
They will come
and watch from the horizon
as the water evaporates at her red lips,
as the sun, orange and blue, falls into the grey dust
and she bears her thirst with patience,
as the pieces of her fall
away, grain by
Durante la noche todo cambia.
The land is smothered in shadow
and the lights move over the streets
slowly as if they were spirits like me.
I lingered in doorways, and I hovered over precipices.
I stood in strange homes and watched the mountains through the windows,
the lights trickled down and the wind carried me away
over borders, over oceans, over time.
My life was familiar, but smudged,
as if with ashes and coal by a heavy thumb,
a dark copalera.
I kissed the cheeks and the lips of my dearest friends, unaware that they could not see me,
that I wasn't there.
I wandered over the desert with the dogs who were lost
and rested in the moon shade of trees that don't exist.
When I awoke, my feet were trembling with desert dust and pricked with cactus needles.
Mi alma camino mucho anoche,
and I woke up exhausted.
We were women once,
before we mothers.
Don’t forget that once we belonged
only to ourselves
when we danced with fire
and combed our hair with silver.
We bathed for hours
naked in the moonlight
and we were careless with our lovers,
we left the house at midnight
and walked the streets
alone. Our eyes were
serpentine and we perfumed
ourselves with stolen sage and
rosemary and rose petals smeared over
our young, unblemished skin.
Before the water filled us up
drop by drop
and we disappeared
with the torrent of
blood and tears and howls and joy
and forgot that
once, we were women.
Ana La Tecpatl
Ana Tiffany Devez is a two-spirit xicana writer, educator, and activist from El Chuco. A life-long resident of the borderlands, she writes about the xicana experience, motherhood, womanhood, race, sexuality and works to document the beauty of xicanx, Mexican, indigenous, and immigrant communities of color through poetry, photography, and performance.