Poems - Book 3 - Artist in Residence 2021

Our third and final installment from 2021 Artist in Residence Victoria Hurtado wraps up her reflections on mothering. 

As the speaker mourns, she comes back to her imaginative roots to paint pastoral images by each stanza. These images, although they have no truth in them, still have connections to the reality of the past and the present. Underneath the direct content, there are subtle moments of grief, and even helplessness. The surreal descriptions still find its way back to the melancholy and the death of her grandmother. This poem makes a sound statement of producing poetry; writing poems has its own eccentric characteristics of mothering.



These hands, I use for

crying & things after


these hands are made

for throwing fruits

at caravans after a night

of shame


thrifting for clothes/

pieces that make me

look tall


hands for a wedding ring without

someone to cradle //OD on wedding cake, it’s love//

some fingerprint nonsense

on wallpaper   these fingers

intertwining with the roots

on wet dirt

//i could go without them//

ego punishment/ garnish

these skinny witch hands

nerves heavy of botany //what does it mean when they keep looking?//

wishing they looked seductive


//iron kissing sun

handwashed linen eyes looking entirely back//


fingers with heavy jewelry from dead people

so I know what it feels like


let them hold me for

the love           we missed

these things after //long evening debating whether to cut me off//

after years of disobeying

the theory of living


these hands


me/ great blood

holds fertility in writing


editor: 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. 

Paloma Piquito de Oro/ Series of Mothering


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?