Poems - Book 2 - Artist in Residence

During her artist residency program, Victoria had experienced being a caregiver for her grandmother. A task that was very challenging and taxing but at the same time gave her even more purpose to write and help her to process her experiences. The poems are published in the order the artists asked intended the readers to read. If you can, please make sure you take your time and explore the first two poems “In after hours, I am not a Mother” and “Everyday” before you read these. 

Poem #3 - "Write through the dying” and Poem #4 – “Paloma Piquito de Oro

 

The speaker documents a stream of consciousness that tries to hold onto the present time, but continuously wanders in different thoughts. Even though it seems like the speaker is drifting off, the underlying images and metaphors connect readers back to the reality of the situation: the grandmother is dying. There is a sense of great appreciation, even in the inanimate objects that contribute to this whole life cycle in its heavy atmosphere.

 

Write through the dying/ Series of Mothering

my pastoral fig tree

she looks like wood

aged/ swindle falsely

queens venture to 

die in figs/

they buzz & carcass

 

leave enough eggs

for the most &

for the living/

 

the way one

watches figs 

fall streaming 

down & 

loses itself 

 

brink of liberation

& even then

disconnected 

 

when I look at her

I like to pretend 

she’s a porcelain

doll – one that lays

in bed

carved & molded 

into 

 

bed/ sheets

never looked 

so venitian

because seeing 

a deflated soul

ready 

 

makes every piece touching 

as art/ especially everything 

seems 

so still/still 

enough to kiss

& feel 

how much I breathe 

 

her, too/ playing white 

noise of rain isn’t

enough 

 

out of all 

confusion from grown

children & questioning

my mortality/this 

world right here is 

 

sorrowful & enraged 

just as the ambulance 

down the street

while dogs howl

instinctively & the moon 

knows it all –

 

how human

craft & producing 

comes back to the mother

 

how yellow roses 

crystallize romance & next 

moments/ what they do to make 

you wait/ how we wait 

for what they turn into/

 

turn to trauma – how violent 

veins are & blunt

words from the buried endearments 

 

even down

to the cashews left 

on the nightstand

 

it all goes stale

 

& looks back 

to tell you nothing

 

ever stays 

the same – whatever 

that means

 

& for every

drop of fig, the tree

emulates this 

 

grand love

nobody really appreciates

 

the grand 

love of dying

 

how the cuttings

of bouquets

develop with spiders & 

their inner strings

 

they scream at you

 

smells 

of savory dust/ scalp/ smells

of heat/ the daring ways 

I look at my grandmother

as she shows me 

what life is 

made up of

 

###

Paloma Piquito de Oro/ Series of Mothering 

This poem holds a great sense of fear and purpose as a loved one is dying. The speaker is the only one looking at the grandmother as she passes away. She realizes she had to take on the role of guiding her out from this life and reminding her how loved she is. This metaphorical change in the household helps remind the speaker she is a vessel for others and realizes how difficult that can be since it all revolves around love.

 

I have to 

see this woman quiet/her 

efforts to bring family to america

under the greatest willow trees as I see her 

just now/ my mother said you have to 

see her die, me whispering 

I have to/

 

corn husk hand picked 

sweet corn skin turns 

my favorite interesting purple/ now gives 

me a reason     to hate it/ I’ve never 

been so loving 

 

to one body 

was/ is a slight sky slanted 

eyes sloped through a faint 

breathing & swooping through 

mine & her own

 

grieving books say

words do not mean 

anything anymore/

my eyes/ I caress/ simple 

my dimensions/ my eyes, filled 

 

with this love/ tu cuerpo con 

estos vasos 

this body

 

sentimental & displayed

with her only son seamed into fear & 

deflated grandson sitting 

on windowsill & there I am

 

the one looking at a dying 

woman/ stunned/ usando mis 

ojos/ wind said let it 

 

caressing her hands as I would want 

once I die/ circled plum warmth as sunrise 

 

jaw slanted

& closing with her upper lip for 

an anticipated breath/ how anatomy 

can turn personal/

déjame que yo te quiera

 

oigo, siento,

estoy aqui 

¿y que mas? 

 

esperando, el tiempo/ 

dijo que usted también 

 

está esperando/ el dolor termina 

 

I’ll be waiting to say 

to my tio 

I hear nothing & look at a mans’ eyes 

graciously for once 

in my life

 

watch the frames grow boungavillea/ stamped 

vintage creating to swelled sunlight simmered

a great end/ pumpkin vines in emptiness 

float out to a forest green sea/ see the greater things 

 

buscando amores

 

ya lloré/ ¿ahora que?

fijate, I can look into 

dying eyes/ nourishing my livelihood 

& feel my own defeat & see myself 

melt into my family, finally.

 

Why did it take this much/ el gran amor/ to see 

how important you are?

 


 

Victoria Hurtado is a Chicana poet who grew up in Long Beach, California. Growing up in a dysfunctional household with an absent father and mother was difficult, to say the least. Having no bonds with her parents left her to provide an acknowledgment of her emotional influx and development through writing. Writing became an outlet where she could combine her love for drawing and writing, and express all her emotions, anger, sadness, happiness, frustration determinations which ultimately resulted in building resilience. She finished her Bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing at California State University in Long Beach. Currently, she is enrolled in the master’s program for creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. 


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