Ysleta Poeta / Poeta de Ysleta: Sheryl Luna. She grew up here in the Lower Valley and used to live a couple miles down the road from me a few years ago. Her book Pity the Drowned Horses is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. When I hear or read her poem "Bones," specifically when I reach "the last few hares, sprint across..." line, I know that this is a poem with duende:
forget to speak to one another as our ending skulks
arthritically into our bones, and the dust
of a thousand years blows across the plain,
and the last few hares sprint across a bloodied
highway. Here in the desert southwest, loss
is living and it comes with chapped lips,
long bumpy bus rides and the smog of some man's
factory trap. And there are women everywhere
who have half-lost their souls
in sewing needles and vacuum-cleaner parts.
In maquiladoras there grows a slow poem,
a poem that may only live a moment sharply
in an old woman's soul, like a sudden broken hip..."
This work always reminds me that an excellent poem does not quit too soon, not necessarily in terms of length but in the depth and quickness of associations, image to image, line to line. I would describe the poems in this collection like the "last few hares sprint[ing] across a bloodied / highway..." They do not easily give up, give in, or end... they live through risk, evoke loss and life simultaenously: "Loss / is living."
I interviewed Sheryl last fall in Denver and an excerpt from the interview will appear in the summer issue of Indiana Review.
I don't think I would have started a blog without her Chicana Poetics blog as inspiration. I was working on this post before she read my first two entries... I was hoping to finish this entry before she checked out the blog for the first time.
She gave a reading in Ysleta last year. A photo of Sheryl with her grandmother and mother at the reading: