Hybrid: Two Prose Poems by Felicia Zamora

Learned Intimacy

The curvature of a shoulder: place where flesh gathers to flesh. Slope of ear lightly suctions. Your eyes roll under REM induced drifting. Incantations spell from your lips, parted, a fissure in my universe. I bow my hips out from your leg, slide my hand beneath the lace & begin to masturbate. How the word passionate dilutes in comparison to my index finger & wisp of your breath hinting the scent of milky dandelion sap; I chuckle in gasps. On haunches, you held the delicate head between forefinger & thumb, It’s latex, you know. I stood above you imbibing your frame. Dandelion sap. I hold my moan at the back of my throat. Exhale the word l-ay-t-ex, in long syllabic filaments. Arch my spine up to a rhythm of my own making. I first found my clitoris at the edge of a couch arm—mons pubis applying pressure into fabric until the sturdy of wood found, then down to prepuce, until almost sting. My pelvis worked the curve while eyeing for my mother washing dishes around the corner. Even at six, I knew the relief an organism gives the body. Wanting leaves traces. & I knew the world wanted to keep me wanting. I learned to take my own breath away. I learned to lean into the arm of the couch while keeping eyes in lookout. The thought of my head thrown back, eyes clutched, veins pulsating heat, reflected in my mother’s widen eyes haunted me. & yet wanting leaves traces so I evolved the efficiency of cumming. I think of all that women must withhold. I think of my mother’s silhouette sleeping in her car before the sun came up; how she traded bruises for factory work & three brown kids & whispers from pews; the one-body indent in the mattress for forty years; how hunger dwells in our cells, our genetics. I think had she just walked around the corner, seen me, she’d think, Yes, this is my daughter. My lineage. My chest deflates, fingers stop & my clitoris burns. I roll away from your chest, your sleep, your not knowing. Quiet. & I watch an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I think of how Christie made arsenic the woman’s choice for poisoning & poisoning the woman’s choice for murder; how low levels of arsenic found in soil, water, air—almost untraceable. In elements, it’s all about exposure, amounts. I imagine the atomic number 33. I imagine the earth’s crust. My palms gently glide over my arms, wrists, thorax. I imagine my mother, recording reruns of Gilligan’s Island, forearms invisible under the afghan over her midsection, beads forming on her brow.

Mars Exploration: Poem for Diana Trujillo & the Work of Wonder

In the ‘80’s, the term martian either hit my body with slurs & fists, or cartoony depictions of hungry Alf-esk muppets or Marvin’s neon green. How even in galaxies far far, we can’t imagine beyond a masculine invasion. In the 2021 article, Diana Trujillo helps design the rover’s robotic arm; Diana Trujillo wonders if we are alone; Diana Trujillo carries the word director in her title as she stands in front of the blue, red, and white NASA sign; Diana Trujillo’s headline reads, “From Cleaning Lady To Director For NASA, This Latina Immigrant Just Put A Rover on Mars,” & I wonder about performance, if the fourth wall crumbles for us or just haunts; I wonder about walls & what a country makes us carry/leave behind; I wonder about documentation, what a country makes us prove beyond ourselves over & over again, a culling reminder if my name shows up in national print, will someone write: Felicia Zamora explores poetry to understand gaps in the world; Felicia Zamora knows alone is a symptom; Felicia Zamora carries the word migration in her bones & a university logo in her email signature; Felicia Zamora’s headline reads, “From Toilet Bowl Brush To Pen, This Latina Just Wrote Another Book Of Poems…So What?”; I wonder how years scouring the Dairy Queen toilets in Iowa Falls, or palms sliced in corn fields working underage for the detasseling company my brother nicknamed the Bloody Cock, or days standing in line at the foodbank with my mother, might surface & define me—in a succinctness meant to make me unaware of myself; I wonder, how far we go in any parody, plunge our hands into any planet’s soil before we see ourselves—& wonder what discovery really means. 

About Felicia Zamora

Felicia Zamora headshot

Felicia Zamora is the author of six books of poetry including, I Always Carry My Bones, winner of the 2020 Iowa Poetry Prize (University of Iowa Press, 2021), Quotient (forthcoming from Tinderbox Editions, 2022), Body of Render, Benjamin Saltman Award winner (Red Hen Press, 2020), and Of Form & Gather, Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize winner (University of Notre Dame Press). A CantoMundo and Ragdale Foundation fellow, she won the 2020 C.P. Cavafy Prize from Poetry International, the Wabash Prize for Poetry and the Tomaž Šalamun Prize. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Georgia Review, Guernica, Missouri Review Poem-of-the-Week, Orion, Poetry Magazine, The Nation, and others. She is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Cincinnati and associate poetry editor for the Colorado Review