Poetry Archive

after my son’s diagnosis

                                 my shoulders wear like a stranger’s

knot across my back               sinews            my shoulders at their worst                I tear apart 

        at the news           my eyes torrent          my  heart  mourns            in all its places

                             no miracle                                no prayers answered    
        I river                      I storm                             I white-water-rapid-roar

                 from dusk to morning                         until I’m gone             I’m silent         I’m numb

        if only I could ravage

drown to my destruction

                         go back to the day before conception

before my birth

                         my body never             my  body never                                    

so many nights                        falling

      falling              through


                           down               stairs

                                      down               flights

                                              down               stories

after so much falling

how to rise                 

               for him



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Filed under: Poetry Archive


Hecha en México, Norma Liliana Valdez made her way to California in her mother’s pregnant belly. She is an alumna of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop, the Writing Program at UC Berkeley Extension, and was a 2014 Hedgebrook writer-in-residence. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop and a CantoMundo fellow, her work appears in The Rumpus, Huizache, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and the anthology Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA, among others. Her chapbook, Preparing the Body, is forthcoming in fall 2019 from YesYes Books.  For the narrative behind this poem, check out her essay, "Inheritance", in The Rumpus.