Elemental by Jenna Martinez


at eighteen, my mother runs away
to the border to marry my father.
the air that carries her to Laredo
seeps into the seeds of me.
I bloom into a small tornado.
breezes ferry me into soft beds and soft bodies.
in Mexico, a woman holds my palm
eres inquieta, she says.
I turn 33 in Death Valley.
the wind strikes the sand
into wisps the shape of snakes.

the heat of Brooklyn
evaporates up the summer concrete
holding the steps of all of us
tumbling through the city.
I have a husband, a girlfriend, and a lover.
I am a giant.
I press my heavy foot onto the street
stepping over the bridges
that touch borough to borough.
unfurled, I expand across the city,
come to its borders and spill.

on the southside of San Antonio,
the curandera spins a bath for sweetness.
the petals fall onto the shower floor.
I toe the constellations at my feet.
bathed in honey,
I loosen the laces, untie myself
from my life, my marriage,
my pebble of earth.
I slip into dark waters.

a small compass emerges in my belly.
I follow the arc of sun.
its origin touches the bedroom windows,
bowing in the living room.
I press blooms in to the clay Midwest earth,
their maroon faces stretch over the lawn
vining toward sun.