Veronica Silva

On Being Seen


Veronica Silva is a Cuban-American poet who grew up in Miami, and currently lives in Orlando. She is a senior Creative Writing major at the University of Central Florida, where she specializes in poetry and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Cypress Dome. Her work has previously appeared in PANK Magazine.

You can find her on Instagram @veronicalils

It’s lovebug season and somewhere between your town and mine,
we stop at a gas station to fuel up and scrape their guts off our windshields.

The dog is whining in my backseat, wondering why I’ve left him.

A pickup truck pulls up next to me and the top half of the man’s body
is practically hanging out of his rolled-down window: is that your boyfriend? 

You’re at the next pump, preoccupied with your own bug-smudged glass,
and I say yes, confident it’s the right answer and he’ll drive away. But I can still 

feel his heavy gaze and the movement of my breasts when I pump my arms
to wipe the glass. I want to turn away from him but I remember the backs 

of my thighs, my ass, the anatomy of prey, humans and our forward-facing eyes.

             Most days I don’t know how to be the right kind of invisible.

You’re walking to me now and the dog is growling, shiny wet teeth pressed
against the window.                  I could hush him, but then we’d both be barking. 

When he asks if I’m Spanish, I say hispanic and I know he shrugs because
he believes I’ve given him a synonym. He shouts at you: and you’re american? 

You respond we both are like it’s a challenge, and it surprises even me
because that doesn't always feel true. (I’ll spend the rest of the drive studying

my own face in the rearview, wondering if we have both become blind
to my otherness.) I roll the window down for the dog and he finally releases 

             the pulled-back bow of his snarling lip and howls. His hound snout, 

his elongated neck, his entire body straightens like an arrow pointing, here
is the embarrassing ordeal of being a girl in a tank top pumping gas, 

             the spectacle of being maybe-american in america.


I was your age when I married a drunk                                                                                                        
is what my mother’s mother says to me when
there are only women in the room. I become                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

an apparition of her at nineteen, crooked teeth                                                                              
glinting in the silver soup ladle / a mirror of me                                                                                   
floats in the kitchen. I see my mother raising

her younger sisters as daughters, crushing their lice                                                                               
between her fingernails / scrubbing their scalps                                                                                  
clean in the bathroom / my grandmother raises her

husband from the dead after friends leave his drunken                                                                           
liver on the porch step. I watch the ceiling cave in                                                                              
from the weight of my mother’s guilt when she leaves

that house for good / I draw the curtains shut                                                                                         
on the dust of collapse. I know all about fixing up                                                                                
cracks in the drywall. How does a girl decide

she is not responsible for giving her mother                                                                                            
what her mother could not give herself? I am yet                                                                                          
to figure that one out—but I know that when

there are only women in the room, I become                                                                                             
all of them at once. When there are only women                                                                                      
in the room, sometimes, we don’t have to be women

at all. But right now, I watch—my grandmother hide                                                                                 
the porcelain, the freshly-ironed linen, the TV set                                                                           
under the bed. She leaves the baseball game playing                                                                            

on the radio, serves his plate, and when he passes                                                                                     
out at the table, his face in his dinner, she cleans him up,                                                                                                 washes the dishes, puts everything back in its place.

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