On the plains of the Llano, winds whistle through cactus quills. Here,
the first man & the first woman meet beneath the arms of a mesquite.
They are quiet in their curiosity like knees that have only just met, after
years of wandering. What is this swollen muscle, she delights. This open
wound, he wonders. Beneath this makeshift shelter, the first man consults
constellations. He scratches his thickening head & names the crevice after
a disappearing crescent. The first woman grinds her teeth to keep from
laughing as he anoints each groove with pomade. His ignorance echoes in the
hollows of her thighs. She sips remedies from geodes & waits for the fruits
gathering in her bowl to ripen. Don’t worry, he whispers. Tonight, the first
man discovers the cure for her wanting. He’s just seen the male scorpion
mending the female scorpion—back & forth in a fury, their pincers locked
together in a dance across the desert. This is how it’s done, as the first man
encourages the first woman. When their embrace is ended, grasses of the
plains thread with the fragrance of rain. Yarrow blossoms stem from their
braided bodies & everything has become so clumsy that their god, in his
absence, dies of embarrassment.
Leslie Marie Aguilar originally hails from the heartland of Texas. She is the poetry editor of Indiana Review and is the recipient of a National Society of Arts and Letters Literature Award and the Washington Square Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Southern Indiana Review, Phoebe, Hotel Amerika, Spillway, and Rattle, among others. She is currently an MFA candidate at Indiana University where she teaches Creative Writing and Literary Editing/Publishing.
The above poem is an excerpt from Mesquite Manual, winner of our 2014–2015 chapbook contest, selected by Michael Martone.
Order the chapbook here.