Latino/a Poets Roundtable

Autorretrato Quintina

Autorretrato Quintina

A mind needs a place to set its teeth, and grace
arrives in fixing the toilet, in water
smoothing the pre-dawn fears of possible
cysts, faulty seatbelts, the radio loop
of reasons I'm needed and belong nowhere.

Here is a mirror without Las Meninas, and nowhere
does light soften brow and wrist to the grays
blessed by Velázquez. Here is a needle's loop
for a mouth. Here is a sheet of water
rising behind the iris, here, the possible

a mottled gold. My skin is a plausible
way of counting miles, the tender nowhere
route of veins, tongue floating in water
carried since birth. My hands have the grace
to wield a wrench, to pull a chain loop

free from its knots and sketch the oval loop
a portrait might make if the impossible
appeared: a king's room brushed with grace,
sun fixed to lace and a leisure nowhere
near the bathroom echo of iron and water.

In this lull between doing and dreaming, water
owns shadow and animal rust, water loops
music around the heads of all who are nowhere
in the path of sleep. Draw closer. It is possible
to love the trouble in this face, to surrender.

Originally published in Poets and Artists. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Emma Trelles is the winner of the 2010 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, awarded in conjunction with Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies. Her collection Tropicalia is forthcoming from the University of Notre Dame Press in February 2011. She is also the author of the chapbook Little Spells (GOSS183), a recommended read by the Valparaiso Poetry Review and the Montserrat Review. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the recipient of a Green Eyeshade award for art criticism, she has been a featured author at the Miami Book Fair International and at the Palabra Pura reading series at the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago. She received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University and is a regular contributor to the Best American Poetry blog. She lives with her husband in South Florida, where she was born and where she works as an arts journalist and a writing consultant for Nova Southeastern University.

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