chirality, n. derived from the Greek χειρ (kheir), “hand”; asymmetric in such a way that a structure is not superimposable on its mirror image
My neglected succulent, weathered plump leaf, persists despite thirst cemented to a crack of earth.
Two dreams: my oiled ass in a mirror, like I am trying to keep you; or, leaves falling like cards onto stone.
Mistake: thinking marriage is as integrated as a helix, that inextricable water spine.
On that last sunny September day, the house is already on its side. To cross the threshold is to fall in, spinning.
For doing everything with my right, now everything feels left-handed.
The Christmas tree is still up on Valentine’s Day, each ornament a mourning hour wound into a blue milk light-cocoon.
Dissolution, response: I guess I picked the wrong two, pathos, ethos.
I reach for the dry earth of you, stagnant as a delta.
—cut because the baby was tangled [in] tangled was baby the because cut [out]
On the other side of the mirror I see that poisoned life, each molecule built so backward even the water became poison.
More precisely: thrashed in the spiral seawater makes between rocks.
Butterfly, web history, thyroid, locked phone, the spill of tablets on the kitchen counter, I carried your child.
Reduced to evidence, the state sees your point: Hispanic female, 35, 208 lbs.
Begin workout: empty the dresser, move to the other bedroom. Today’s split: the condom stash. Four, four. My half, in a box in the closet. On move-out day, your half: already, all gone.
Discovery: In the end, it’s all data. Show all. [[email protected] ~]# tcpdump –vv
Trojan horse: the virus we caught from the amateur MILF porn you finally made come to blonde life.
Playdate playmate: while I’m away, she gets your number. Ponies in the park, and our son becomes the way you arrange a fuck.
Plot twist: Belle gets fat, and the Beast becomes the one who feels trapped.
Sprint, burpee, down dog, spin class, butterfly stroke, warrior, leaf light, light as a leaf.
What my body can’t do: folds of shame.
What to Expect covers the darkening of the nipples, linea negra, permanent hyperpigmentation of labia and inner thighs, the delta of stretch marks, the pulled apart structural muscles of the abdomen, but not
what to expect from you as a result.
Or in Greek, delta meaning difference, change.
Belly against the cool sink, I start to part my hair to the left again.
Will you look at that—now we’re all the way back at the beginning.
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal was born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. She is the author of the collection Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series, 2017), winner of the John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters, and featured as a Best of 2017 book at The Los Angeles Times, NBC News, BOMB, Literary Hub, and Entropy. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Boston Review, The Academy of American Poets, Buzzfeed, Epiphany, PBS Newshour and elsewhere. She is a CantoMundo Fellow, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she is raising her son with the help of a loyal dog. She can be found at www.vanessaangelicavillarreal.com.
in your carpeted office you lay my life down / and say open up to that small room in my sternum.