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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 2

Casandra Lopez

When I Was a Young Girl

When I was a Young Girl By Casandra Lopez Mother once told me a story. In this story a mother throws herself on to her son’s coffin, not wanting him to be lowered into the ground. This mother soul sobs the way only survivors can. A hunched rack of body, draping over slick coffin. She is bones and lungs; needs to be pulled back and into arms. I find myself returning here often to this grieved need. We had no coffin for Brother. Mother didn’t cry into his casket. Her howls were kept hidden that day, twined sharp against muscle. Later they would break free into porcelain sink while Brother’s body was at the coroner’s. There were papers to be filed, a body to be dissected. We try to right this– purify the desecrated–turn his body to ash. We try to right this. We try and try to right this. And I write this–fearing no one else will. I return here to Mother’s words as they become mine but I can never finish writing a mother’s loss– Not when there are Mothers on t.v. Mothers in newspapers. Some made fragile; some made fierce by the theft of son or daughter Theft of gravel and shovel, theft of name theft of future theft of mother and father theft of sister and brother theft of friend and lover theft of names some we will never know. Who will hold these mothers up off of caskets, off of sinks. and into arms?

Casandra Lopez, a Chicana, Cahuilla, Tongva and Luiseno writer. She has a MFA from the University of New Mexico and has been selected for residencies with the Santa Fe Art Institute, School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her poetry chapbook Where Bullet Breaks was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center. She is a CantoMundo, Jack Straw fellow and a founding editor of As/Us: A Space For Women Of The World.



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