Columns, Poetry, Poetry Archive

Mammals | Li Yun Alvarado


In this prelingual state

I am jungle gym

and pillow.

In picture books

I learn that a bear cub

nurses while its mother

hibernates, that whales

and dolphins swim

and suck.

You cling to your

meal ticket, like 

a monkey infant.

Cling and climb.

Climb and swing.

At night, you turn

heat seeking 

missile, latch

on, eyes closed.

Foal, puggle, calf, 

piglet, cub, kitten,

joey, or pup – your kin.

Nap-nursing on my 

lap, you’ve made

a mammal out of me.

Li Yun Alvarado is the author of the chapbooks Words or Water and Nuyorico, CA. A poet and scholar, her work has appeared in Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education; The Acentos Review; PMS Poemmemoirstory; and Cura: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action, among others. She has served as the Senior Poetry Editor for Kweli Journaland is an alumna of VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and AROHO. Li Yun is a native New Yorker living in Long Beach, California who takes frequent trips to Salinas, Puerto Rico to visit la familia.

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