Two Poems
Jen Ferrara


LITTLE I, TENOSIQUE MEXICO: NIXTAMALIZATION

Cotton sleeves stick to Little I’s arms and stiff
embroidered flowers wilt on her achy chest.
Routine morning sounds deliver slow clarity from
night’s delirium. Mother hands vanishing in filmy
sun-rise pink. Fever-dry lips split and her tongue
dabs blood droplets.

Women’s low music slips past curtain-weave
dust accompanied by pouring kernel rattle and slow
fire wood crackle. Brown hands slide pebbled corn into
silencing water. Steady wood-stick drumming rhythms
against the pot as slaked lime softens seed coats.

Weakened legs unsandwich from heavy bedclothes
toward the bed edge, toes reaching for cool floor
hardness. Little I presses the window, her stretching
fingers unfasten the latch, outside air kissing her cheeks
and a silver smile from her mother’s aunt brushes her
eyes as wise arms reach through the frame gathering her
into apron-warmth.

Steam rising from the pot, cousin’s scarred hands
unburden its weight from the iron grate leaving it to rest
under banana leaves. Straining now-gold from day-
before soaking, many caring hands roll little seeds between open
palms and rough fingers, sloughing off outer toughness,
separating inner tenderness: preparing for the next phase.



LITTLE I, TENOSIQUE MEXICO: JAGUAR CENOTE

Little I stalks through dancing jaguars,
dodging white underbellies and stealing
black rosettes from their muscled limbs.
She scrambles up the slippery hillside
behind the church, screeching reed-flutes
giving way to her own raucous mewing:
arms, legs, face and clothes smeared
with jaguar blotches. In time with her
coursing blood, she scrabbles thick
mossy bark, tearing it from damp
trunk. Her clawing fingernails etch
the pulpy wood underneath. Smelling
turquoise rain cooling under crooked-
mooned darkness, she wildly carves
a deep cenote, encircling it with crescented
stalagmites and sworded stalactites. Yawning
water beckons. Far away drumming insists.
Roaring at the underworld, she shrinks
to the size of her tears and enters.



Jen Ferrara lives in Rome, Italy. Caper Literary Journal has recently published two of her poems.