I was already gutted when you found me in full-

moon’s eve. I was already raw and lonely.


My face, a calavera: eye sockets and mandible,

cheek bones.  My teeth exposed to the wisdoms.


I’d been drinking blues from what I hoped would be

a bottomless night.  You approached with slackened ears,


sniffed with wetted nose.  You kept your canines

to yourself. I bore my bony fingers into pelt, hushed


and rough, and soothed the patches at your nape.

Your eyes slit-like then.  And that is what I remember


most: the obsidian in your gaze, sharper than a razor.

How you finished off the gutting like a cool stream of river.


How I began to flesh.  Shape-shifter,

I’ve yet to hear the low pitch of your howl.


We were on a street called Jacarandas but in the dead

of winter I’ve forgotten how to name blossoms.





Hecha en México, Norma Liliana Valdez made her way to California in her mother’s pregnant belly. She is an alumna of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop, the Writing Program at UC Berkeley Extension, and was a 2014 Hedgebrook writer-in-residence. She was the poetry winner of the 2015 San Miguel Writers' Conference writing contest, and a 2016 Under the Volcano fellow. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, her poems can be found in Calyx, Dismantle, Poetry of Resistance, and Huizache, among others.