Irene Vasquez

Spotlight: Freehanding Maps of Minnesota / Canción Bilingüe


Freehanding Maps of Minnesota

I have called you feather down
in my sleep, christened you
the verge of memory,
painted your rivers in the rain.
I have written the scene
before I even arrive;

The breeze floats just enough
to rustle the edges of the paper,
lines only tenuously

Do your lakes ever run
dry? Does the smoke stay
in your clothes like it stays
in mine?
I have loved you, Minnesota, and
I have never seen your face.

Ink stains
your geometry,
monolith of midwest and west
and tell me west,
do you ever get lonely?
Have you ever been afraid
to hold on? I can see you
through the snow drifts,
from the parched hills
of my heart.

I reside in the ache of sleep
and stone, I walk
through dreams
to follow you, Northern Star. I wish
it were as easy
as buying a ticket to see the lights,
but the paper stayed
in my pocket, through the laundry,
never recovered.

Would you chase me
through the woods, Minnesota?
Follow me
northbound, run your hand through my hair
and call me holy? Would you welcome me now,
after the way the summer sunset
left us sprawling?

Would you love me, Minnesota, even when I go back home?


Canción Bilingüe

Mi amor,

Your tongue
never foreign to me. One word
en español; everything
at once dearer to me:

amorcito, solecito, cafecito.

You conduct
the songs of my past. You are
my past, we are the future.
You will map
the world, and I will name
each new landmark for the words
that were robbed from us.

Luna, soledad,

patria mía.

I am un-
assimilated, un-colonized,
a culture all my own. I love you
and the forgotten words
come home.
The desert sun smiles, the wind whips
and calls my name. My borders
come to life, the barbs in my heart start
to bloom.
I catalogue my native
species, find names
for the things I deemed unnamable.
I love you and the Aztec seal within me
takes flight, finally ready to show my people a land they can call their own.

I promise I will never leave you
I will give you
every word I have ever known.


Irene VasquezIrene Vazquez is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer from Houston, Texas. She is a founding editor of Zig Zag Zine. Irene was a runner-up in the 2016 Glass Mountain prose and poetry contest, and she received an honorable mention in the 2015 Princeton High School poetry contest. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, F(r)iction, and Words Dance, among others.