María José Giménez


now that I find myself

on this other side of something

I’m laughing at myself

you’d think I didn’t grow up

with a mother who lit candles

and walked around the house

with a can full of fragrant burning

things opening drawers and closet

doors on her way to the shower

to do some kind of bathing ritual

you’d think that’s not what happened

at my house every sunday after church

but somehow I forgot

and had to ask

from the heart

of this big question

so your voice

tu voz

would remind me

of that light

bring me back

to my senses

come de mí

open your mouth


I would have been

gnawing on your bones

a while ago

if you hadn’t asked me

not to wound you

too many syllables

how is it that you let

a foreign body

inside yours

eat of its flesh

and yet and yet refuse

to drop and curl

your tongue part lips

throat hollow to sing

the contours of its name

María José Giménez is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has received support from the NEA, the Studios at MASS MoCA, the Breadloaf Translators’ Conference, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Author of the chapbooks chelated (Belladonna*) and entretanto, and 2019–2021 Poet Laureate of Easthampton, Massachusetts, María José is the co-translator (with Anna Rosenwong) of Mara Pastor’s bilingual collection DEUDA NATAL, winner of the 2020 American Academy of Poets Ambroggio Prize. More at