Poems and Texts

“Archaeology of Vestments” by Rosa Alcalá

Archaeology of Vestments

I remember the fine pleats of your tunic, how they found you among the funerary rags. Your bicep, evident. The crease of your inner elbow. The perfect press that flattened each fold; a funny lie. You were wayward, you wallowed.

I remember pouring buckets of hot water onto ice until your body emerged. That you were preserved in your string skirt, hung low on the hips. Something alkaline made the threads rich, something made you kin.

I remember what you wore when there are now only words. I remember how they chased you out of town in your own confection. A print unsuitable for marriage.

You wove and unwove, but you were no Penelope. You were my mother re-inventing English in her copy-cat fashion, and then you were a boy in a band whose ripped jeans I sold. And then you were a rack of babies, from which I stole one.

Rosa Alcalá

Rosa Alcalá is the author of two books of poetry, Undocumentaries (2010) and The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (2012), both from Shearsman Books. Her poems are also included in two recent anthologies: Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing (Counterpath, 2014) and The Volta Book of Poets (Sidebrow Books, 2015). Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), edited and translated by Alcalá, was runner-up for the 2013 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She is also the recipient of a 2015 NEA Fellowship in Translation. She lives and teaches in El Paso, TX.