ire'ne lara silva


ire’ne lara silva is the author of two poetry collections, furia and Blood Sugar Canto, which were both finalists for the International Latino Book Award in Poetry, as well as a short story collection, flesh to bone which won the Premio Aztlán. ire’ne is the recipient of a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award, and the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldúa Milagro Award. ire'ne is currently working on a new collection of poetry, CUICACALI/House of Song, and her first novel, Naci.



nagual: blood

Call the spirits. Call the hunger. Call the running. No moon here. No light. No cities. All our names embedded along the long roads. We have wept and bled here. Leaving fur. Leaving claws. Leaving feathers. Leaving skin. Night is not the time for remembering. Leave it to the morning. Leave it to the day. Darkness is for breathing. Darkness is for pushing the thin membranes that separate us from each other. From the earth. The air. The wind. Night is for speaking what we fear in the daylight. Ending. Becoming. Seeing. The trusting senses fall away and we fill with the flowing surety of what we know without words. What we wrote when language was symbol and color and image. When we wrote everything in blood. 


nagual: smoke

Call the wings. Call the hollowed bones. Call the howling. Call the smoke. We need the smoke. Be born in smoke. Lose our edges. Our limits. Our endings and beginnings. Smoke in the wind. Call the flame. We need the flame. Without flame we forget. Without smoke we hold too tight to these upright shapes. These too solid shapes. This is not everything we are. In the ashing flesh we’ll see the glimmering stars. Smoke limbs. Smoke running close to the ground. Smoke womb enveloping us in a language without words. In our mouths—tongues of smoke.


nagual: rivers

Body of water. Body of light. Body of earth. The human shape forgets possible transformations. Forgets that it is only a shape. Leave it. Let it return to light. To rivers. A vessel to fill and empty. We are what always remains. With names. Without. With skin. Without. We are what changes. Not the story but what gives the stories life. We are what cannot be seen. Call the night. Call the stars. Call the wind. Call the earth. The earth will rise to meet us. The earth will lead us to the places where it cleaves. Apart and together. Where it changes. We are bodies of thunder. Bodies without time. Our bodies are rivers. 


poem for Tlaltecuhtli


                          this is the long arrived at truth             you
reveal                 we birth ourselves           and we birth 

ourselves                      the new self           readying itself                 
             to give birth           as soon as it is born               as 
soon as it is strong enough              to squat on its
haunches            with gritted teeth                   eyes gone
half-mad with pain
eyes gone half-blind with awe              an ouroboros of
beings                     squatting on their haunches                 
             with gritted teeth             shoulders braced            
and eyes gone half-mad with pain                   eyes gone
half-blind with awe              screaming infinity with one
throat because                     endlessly               we are both
being born              and giving birth 

not woman body                  not man body                 not
human body             body of light         body of sound               
             body of earth                   body of flesh entrusted              
             with the names of stars              entrusted with the
raw stuff of creation                     body of bone and blood           
             entrusted with that which           visions                                            
                                 body of death and birth                 
             entrusted with carrying all songs          entrusted
with the singing itself

we will remember what has been forgotten             
             remember what has never been forgotten               
             live in that which never leaves us         labor as you
labor            birthing ourselves                birthing                
             birthing                   for everything that dies
this is the wholeness we are                     the infinity we are


what i remembered yesterday

at 6, i was the loner kid. the migrant kid following harvest
seasons in texas, oklahoma, new mexico. we moved every
few months, changing schools, changing homes. i was the
poor kid. the dark brown kid. the only girl with short short
hair and pants.

i was the quiet kid who stared at clouds and blades of grass.
who walked the perimeter of the schoolyard as if plotting
escape. a child in pain with no words for that pain.

iliana was one of the pretty girls. the girls who would grow
up to become cheerleaders. iliana with the pretty gold skin
only slightly lighter than her light brown hair. iliana with
eyes blacker than mine. i don’t know what she did or said,
but one day the cheerleaders-to-be sent her sprawling into
the dirt and turned away.

i don’t remember if i helped her, or if, finding herself alone,
she sought me out. but from one moment to another, i
went from alone to not-alone. impossible that we had ever
been apart.

little soulmate. mirror reflection. inseparable. we had one
shadow. we spent every second of her exile breathing the
same air. staring at the same clouds. holding the same
wildflowers. she held my hand.

i loved her with all the passion of my 6 year old heart. it
seems as if that should be funny, but it isn’t. because the
passion of my 6 year old heart was not the passion of my
17 year old heart or my 21 year old heart or my heart at any
other point.

at 6, a heart is infinite. devoid of want. devoid of
selfishness. devoid of games. devoid of possession. devoid
of armor. at 6, a heart is infinite.

i don’t remember time. was it weeks? months? i only
remember i had no warning. one day to the next, her exile
ended. the cheerleaders-to-be took her back. i waited for
her but she never returned to our meeting place. i watched
to see if she’d turn and catch my eye and smile her quiet
smile but she never did.

almost 40 years later, i wonder, did it begin then? this
lifelong love of heartbreak songs. betrayal songs.
abandonment songs. unrequited songs. my 6 year old voice
didn’t know the songs i would learn later.

maybe i was 15 or 16 or 17 when that song found me. the
song i didn’t know would follow me always. a song i know
no matter how many years pass without singing it. a song
i’ve known late, early, tired, drunk, sober, heart silent and
heart pealing.

probablemente ya, de mi te has olvidado
y mientras tanto, te seguire esperando* 

yesterday i remembered the 6 year old me. and my 6 year old
heart. and i remembered what i’d forgotten—the 6 year
old lives in me still. the 6 year old in me that waits and
waits and is still waiting.

*”Se Me Olvido Otra Vez” by Juan Gabriel


prayer for the lost children


“Federal Agencies Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 (Im)Migrant Children Placed With Sponsors,” NY Times, April 26, 2018


little ones, you cross my mind every day.

everyday i wish there were things i didn’t know about this world. things i didn’t
understand about power and greed and lust and hate. things i have seen about pain
and abuse and anguish and death. my heart knows some of them are already dead.
knows some of them are living eternities of rape and hurt. my heart knows their
mothers’ tears have reason to never end. my heart knows some of them will never see
 their families again. at some point, they will forget their father’s voice, their mother’s
embrace. some of them will lose their names, their histories, the lands that saw them

little ones, i hold you in my hands.

it is my country that has done this. my country and my not country. the country i was
born to, the country i am a citizen of, the country that shamed and dispossessed and
saw to the poverty and death of my ancestors. the country that in its greed and lust
 for power created the chaos and poverty in the children’s countries of birth and
forced them to seek life here. this my country that i am sworn to change, my soul
pitted against its chant of greed greed greed and hate hate hate. but nothing i do will
be in time for the lost children. as nothing i can do can change the fates of all the
children lost in this my country’s history. what we do from here is to recover what we
can. to save who we can. to battle those who would feed the monster that demands
more children lost.

little ones, my tears are flecked with blood for you.

i wanted to find the words to pray for you, little ones. but neither my tongue nor my
heart are capable of pretending. i cannot will ignorance for myself. you live in me. and
i am commanded to pray for you. a las diosas or to god or to the universe or to
 whatever deities have the power of mercy. to them i pray for you. if you are dead, i
pray for peace for the infinite souls fled from your small bodies. if you are hurting, i
pray for the end of that pain. if you are hungry, i pray for your sustenance. if you are
cold, i pray for warmth. if you are inconsolable, i pray for your comfort. if you are
weary, i pray for your rest. little ones, i send you love and strength. may the despair in
my heart transform itself into light to cover you, to shield you, to feed you, to make
you strong. may las diosas or god or the universe have mercy on you, hold you, and
keep you. may you make a life for yourself one day that will allow you to heal, allow
you to find peace, allow you to love, allow you to live as you choose.

forgive me, little ones, that this is all i can do.


© The Acentos Review 2018