Ana Garza G’z



I spent my morning searching

through drawers, boxes, and collapsed

travel bags for the postcards

where I drafted a poem

one afternoon. It just came,

easy as Compostela

at rest after a full meal.

I searched for it this morning,

the cards I’d folded and smoothed

In a hotel lounge, drinking

Coca Lite while picking ice

chips from a glazed china bowl.

Two waiters refilled the glass.

It was a poem about

Heat and the way the mind goes

When you stand in the plaza

Without a water bottle,

Without someone to tut-tut

when you say, “The sun has teeth,”

without anyone else but

your sister two feet away

silent as the dusty stones

you stand on, as walls,, as gate

posts and alleys and cramped-slits-

for-windows, without a soul,

just her silence since Madrid.

The day I wrote the poem

the hotel lounge was empty,

inanimate like the ice

pinging in my glass each time

I sipped. Then the waiters came

wordless as shadows to fill,

to fill, refill. After that,

I sat with the tile. The room

hissing like my breath. I toyed

with the Coca and the bowl,

in the lounge swallowing cold,

folding pasteboard squares, smoothing

them, counting their song, hisp-hisp,

for an hour, maybe more,

till I held smudged white paper,

blank as her shoulders, her back,

moving  on ahead of me

in the heat for days—and days.

The postcards were just that kind

of cardboard, that doesn’t hold

up to folding and smoothing,

so they cracked, and the poem

fell out, all at once speaking

up, from my hands spilling out

in my voice, my words, spreading

over the table, the bowl,

the tiles, and the hotel lounge,

a spray of thoughts like the mist

from my drink, words with bodies

climbing out in crowds to say,

“It’s hot. The city is old.

Someone’s hands put these stones here

for us to stand on. No sun

light comes in,” like another

voice , a different one urging,

making the waiters come ask

and ask about my travels,

pressing close like the cobbles,

and I needed that today.

God, I needed it today.


I liked palming maize from a barrel

in my aunt’s store. Squatting in the back

with the rice and the flour, I’d rest

my chin on the metal ring, inching

two fingers up the side and plunging

them deep in the movable chalk toward vastness

beyond the lip. my knees would buckle

then, my feet slide

back, my hands slip, searching

for a season, where the tickle of the leaf tip props

moon and sun, where the mutable

warmth of paste gives way to the kneading

hand, the breath of a fire

and the flatness and roundness of bread.

The Maya understood

the truth of who we are,

not clay, not wood, but supple,

pliant maize, so eager

for rain and wind

and light that Gods dulled

our eyes and ears to keep us

from reveling too

much, and seasons later

diminished in my aunt’s store, I--my hand

and my body--would float

inside that truth, glide

inside the remnants of my failing sight, drift

among the echoes of the soul’s

quotidian avarice, fingers in a barrel

of grain amid bodies hard,

bursting, rounded

at their bases, grooved

at their centers, wrinkled,

and tapered, all

clinging to my skin. I’d shriek

from the promise of so much, and the maize would splash

from the barrel to the floor near

the soles of my aunt’s cloth shoes,

where, so far from fertile earth and plows,

they paled and caught their breath,.

I would gasp, listening

for their bones to snap, waiting

for her feet to break

their bodies open into yellow dust, urging

my arms and hands forward, wanting

to hold them safe; to clutch

them, round and square as fingertips;

brush their faces;

and with my skin awakening

to braille, read

the miracle of corn.


Ana Garza G'z is a community interpreter and translator working in central California. Some of her work can be found online at The Able Muse, Leveler Poetry Journal, Rhythm Poetry Magazine, The Salt River Review, and Willows Wept Review.


August 2010