Ixta J. Menchaca




Already drunk at dusk, we clink wineglasses so forcefully mine
fractures, beads of claret seeping out the vein. Your eyes widen
when I press the glass to your mouth. My own lips part as you drink.

Heads tucked into feathers, sleeping ducks bob in reeds at pond’s edge
as you guide me to the lawn. Moths under distant luminaries
so robust we number them in the amber light. Then early stars.

I confuse the ephemeral with the ethereal, and do not know what
this is, who we are. Scent of damp lilacs, fresh earth overpowers
twilight. Lazily, I slap at my wrists and ankles; red spots stain my skin.

(Not my own blood; the mosquitoes must have sought your body
first.) Sharp grass chafes as we lie on the stretch just before the water
and your fingers, calipers, evenly fan each strand of hair around my face.

How do I look from above? Your hand skims the curve of my hip. Motions
to the moonless breadth of sky. No light. Bring your face closer.



Braiding Sweetgrass

That late afternoon, we balanced precariously
on the steps of your back porch in long swaths
of July light. The time is right, you said,
to braid the sweetgrass. Occassionally,
our hands dipped into cool water
in the plastic tub between us, pulled out
dripping strips of the grass. Fingers wrapped
thread around the end of each bundle, plaited
strands as tightly as possible so as not to break
the silence. Our hands met beneath the surface
of the water, amidst grass as green as snakes
among rushes. Some of the sweetgrass
would dry and yellow, flatten
on the dashboard of your Olds. Some
would burn, smolder over the skin
of a drum as you prepared to dance,
the blood in your veins wild.




On Which Season I Prefer

Because autumn is round.
Umbers and marigolds and
goldenrods. Wind eddies lofting
leaves, aerating loam, no edges.
Small pinwheels in rain.

Autumn is burning. Because
every child’s hair is red
in shafts of afternoon light.

A mossy log rolling as softly
as dusk into a pond.

The harvest moon is the yaw
of the sky. The color, the shape,
the very size. It is at once
eerie and consoling;
positioning you
at the top of the world.

What is spring anyway
but a crocus clipped
under a mailbox on the corner?
The little girl in the park
imbuing her sticky hands
with the essence of grass.




Ixta J. Menchaca holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago.Currently, she works as an academic skills specialist and undergraduate writing instructor in Chicago, Illinois. Her writing has been featured in Feminist Review and The Academy Magazine.

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