Review Of Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

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Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
Copper Canyon Press, 2019

75 pages, $16.00

Recipe for Sopa de Scenters-Zapico con Lima :: Limón (a review)
by Manuel Calvillo de la Garza

after Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s “Receta en el Cajón”


Lima :: LimónLos ZetasMotherhood
InnocenceMacho :: HembraPuta


  1. When Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s latest poetry collection, Lima :: Limón, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2019, comes home flipping its pages at you, say hola.

  1. It’ll whisper its first poems, innocent, it wants “to be the lemons in the bowl / on the cover of the magazine.”1 It wants “to be round, to be yellow, to be pulled / from branches.”1 Palm your face to its pages. Scan your mind for a version of you as a child. Laugh. Get ready to grow with this book. Get ready to grow by being pulled.

  1. No falling asleep. The book’s sounds haunt your head. Sing along, “¡Ay pena penita pena! Listen to Lola Flores & search for the pain.”2 Heat one of those songs in a pan, watch its burning drops land on your arms. Think of Lola cooking songs for her macho, like you. Imagine the shapes of the scars on her arms, like yours.

  1. Grab the ground Zetas that the book brings. Blow the dust into a large pot with boiling water, mouthing the following: “in the age of Los Zetas, I am blessed / with a man as beautiful / as Saint Michael, whose shirts / I pierce, tug & embroider.”3 Say gracias to your macho. Press your body to his when he says cállate.

  1. “In a large pot:”4 drop in the book’s thread of intimate analogies. Imagine your children listening to you, deposit each word with care. Macho :: Hembra :: Pain :: Domestic :: Tradition :: Migration.

  1. Tear out pages from the book’s first part into the smallest pieces you can. Stuff them into a shaker, label it Infancia. Do the same with part two, label that shaker Normalized Violence. Part three’s shaker label Motherhood. Shake them a few seconds over the large pot, then set them by your macho’s plate, in case you find your “macho’s fists on the table. He wants más, más, / y más in his united estates.”5

  1. Find the puta in the book. Look for it in its sonnets. Repeat the word out loud. Puta. Say it to a mirror. To your best friend. To your mother. Ask your macho to say it to you. Smile, then tell him, otra vez. “Accept / machismo. Hembra is to let men bite your mouth until it bleeds. Hembra / is to witness your thighs cut to stars by the thrusts of men. Hembra is / to know sex is a blind flicked shut.”6 Grate puta into the large pot.

  1. “You look tired, he’ll say. You look worse, you’ll say.”4

  1. Mix the previously cooked song into the pot. Sniff the soup, understand the different aromas of life in the borderlands, of México in the united estates. Stir and let simmer. You are hungry for a more complete and personal understanding of Mexican-American politics.

  1. Serve while hot.

1From the poem, “Lima Limón :: Infancia” (pg 5)
2From the poem, “Neomachismo” (pg 6)
3From the poem, “In the Age of Los Zetas” (pg 7)
4From the poem, “Receta en el Cajón” (pg 56)
5From the poem, “My Macho Takes Care of Me Good” (pg 13)
6From the poem, “Macho :: Hembra” (pg 47)

BIO: Manuel Calvillo de la Garza is a Mexican writer with an engineering background. He has taught multilingual composition at Chapman University, where he was an MFA fellow, and has been a participant at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, for which he has been awarded a scholarship by the Fiction Collective 2 to attend a second time. He is at work on his first novel, School of Artistas Inmigrantes.