Two Poems by Angela Peñaredondo

Why Grandmother Became a Minke Whale

Underwater, she endures. Attempts to create a viable future in the shifty green among the
other whores and feminists. Akin to the frilled sharks in cabaret and all that teeth. The
wide paddle mouth of a pelican eel, the angler in their grotesque horniness harmonizes
with her obsessions for hairy antennae oscillating in the dark.

Above, parties of war continue. On land, what’s there to need? Mud, stools. The
salacious heat.

Certainly, she has mended enough quilts and cotton to comfort her husband’s sweat
soaked body for nights and those late rough nights. No more rice or pickled singkamas or
goat knuckle stew that she fed the soldiers in their heavy boots, using up all the spoons
and her pretty effigies. They always say, with their mouths stuffed with porridge and
belly meat, you sure have some legs.

Let her have ocean. Gargantuan, iridescent-cunt-kaleidescoping to the Black Sea.
Map. Clock. Contract. Kill. They all mean something different down here.

Oysters and mussels, she’ll gulp them down with no desire for palm wine. She’ll read
books floating on her side, the celestial of algae tickling her brain and wanted curvy fat.
In that unreachable sky some human might describe as precious or turquoise, she knows
paradise lives elsewhere.


Self-Portrait As Molluscs

They feed on bivulvia in an emergency kind of way.
Their shells snap as two hardened fans—
Because of our likeness
I am jealous.

And their meat ribbons seal and close.
Ancient as Phoenician sea-silk,
transparent genitalia.

So far from a paper napkin,
rescued teeth, their fossils scrape the stones.
I’ve etched down this same way before—
splitting savored
under a tongue-less mouth.

And if you want love
and your hand on something
like a ripened thigh,
you must double yourself.
And who doesn’t like that?

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