My mother is an assembly line of mirrors:
my too borderless hair, my two-handful hips,
all the parts the mannequin would not hold.

If you subtract one mother, how many are left?
This problem is called adoption.

My mother is a locked file cabinet. No,
my mother is the one who put my mother
inside the file cabinet. Who spreads her hand

over mine like a lighthouse lantern,
a circumscription of white:

come home, I only want to grow
anchors beneath your skin.
Who never meant to raise an ocean.

Paraguay, I’m told, never touches the sea.
I get good at never touching what I cannot hold.

My mother is Google tip Search for English results only,
my mother is US Citizen & Immigration Form I-600,

my mother is nineteen. Which is nothing,
(now that I am old) except touching and the touch
steals into her womb and puts a ghost inside her.

They say all I did was look and sleep, sleep and look
as if watching the world hard for someone to appear.

After the exorcism, I like to imagine we stood
envying the river beyond the hospital curtains,
their rippling twin, its gleeful mud-brown joining,

and her or my small dark hand rocking us,
two dice inside God’s slowly opening fist.


Ana Maria Guay was born in Asunción, Paraguay, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing and translations have appeared in Catapult, The Toast, Asymptote, and Shot Glass Journal, among others. She holds an MPhil in classics from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar, and a BA in the same from the University of Michigan. She currently lives in Los Angeles as a graduate student in classics at UCLA.