person Michelle Bermudez, two poems

Michelle Bermudez is a Latina poet and MFA candidate at Adelphi University. She is the recipient of the Donald Everett Axinn Award for Fiction. Her poems have been published in Persian Sugar in English Tea: An Anthology of Short Poems and Haikus (Volume 2), as well as in Francis House and “Philadelphia Says: Resisting Arrest.”She lives in New York and is currently at work on a collection of Spanglish poetry.

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Deliverance

To be blessed is to feel the weight of your body
descend into a bed that is not yours.
Beads of sweat roll across the creases of the neck,
then collect their breath in the cavity above the collarbone.
Hips continue to rock back and forth.

When a relative becomes ill, you roll rosary beads
between your fingers and pray, but that music is nothing
to the staggered breath of this woman above you,
nipples between your thumbs and middle fingers.

It’s not unlike prayer, this exchange between bodies,
where this woman will seek silent permission
before pressing her fingers in your neck the way you like,
painting your vision with black stars and clearing your mind of sound.

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Un Poco de Madre’s Historia

There was a niña growing in my soon-to-be madre’s belly
before she even finished high school,
a living blood-pumping reflection of herself.

There was a man who married her without enough affection,
bound by a handshake with her father
and a mistake three months in the making.

There was the return trip to our isla to give birth.
The smelly, humid hallway where madre waited
with other women to give birth two months too early.

There was the nurse whose name madre never got
but whose cutting of my umbilical cord bonded them.
My father wasn’t there to do it himself.

There was a heavy burden of precious breast milk,
of nipples too sensitive for my greedy gums.
I never did know the taste of my madre.

But I knew my madre’s touch, her hands
whose short stubby fingers she hated and nails with bitten edges
that at thirteen taunted me to bite my own to be closer to her.

My madre’s hands that pounded plantains flat
with the heel of her palm over gritty squares of foil.

Those hands that rubbed circles over and around my belly button
as she chanted my pain away:

“Sana sana colita de rana…”

“Sana sana colita de rana…”

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