A Tending
by Gabriela Natalia Valencia

Runestone, volume 2

A Tending

When the sky swells shut I press to it, tender—vestigial motion of my young mother
hunched in cloister, willing the blood to clot—a palm canopied above the eyes,
another soft against the horizon, iodine wetting my browned skin like mango.

In her absence, my father would double a peppermint leaf about a grain of salt, sing
until my fevered belly ceased heaving. Until she returned with stronger medicines,
we took from the garden and from the lung. We picked amid shade.

He said, Your mother is a holy woman.

She said nothing.

I sheath my jaw in that luminous silence and swallow, much like a body, posture
calcified. Two slippery eyes traveling the glossed edge of a plastic fern, searching for
the particle of light hope resembles. That, or a drowsy nothing.

A fog drifts along the shore. Raised sheet. With two hands I pull it thin over my
sugared skin, lift its hem high, and venture into the lake—as hot as a mouth, as
ready for consumption. At the back of its throat—an intractable sun.


Loyola University Chicago

Gabriela Natalia Valencia worries and writes in Chicago, IL. She is a sophomore studying Chemistry and English at Loyola University Chicago with hopes of entering medicine. More of her poems can be found in Bird’s Thumb, The Legendary, Epigraph, and elsewhere.

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