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Bell’s Palsy in Brown Face

I always loved my Mesoamerican silhouette.
I imagined that, like my ancestors, my face should be bindingly symmetrical
the high cheek bones of my Nana K’eri Emma
two golden sharp thrones
upholding my dignity, sitting royally to center the exacting equilibrium of my face.
My face, a Mesoamerican pattern of geometric embroidery
the triangular and rectangular beadings of long earrings
ready to adorn and showcase the conforming balance of my face.
All I knew and understood was geometry.
Closing my eyes, entering their parallel universe of sharp-edged diamond stars, 
amidst the darkness,
I saw but only shapes.
Geometric explosions of turquoise blues, oranges and yellow hues.
I am supposed to be a pyramid.
Will the Mesoamerican figurines who speak to me in dreams 
recognize the crooked, paralyzed me?
I long for red earthen clay
volcanic embers 
sweatlodge rocks 
sacrificial sweat 
a reflection that smiles back at me in the shards of a cruel looking glass:
I am searching for me beyond the copal rising from the smoking mirror
the medicine, the magic, the pluck
to mold and reshape my face.

Gabriela Spears-Rico (she/her) is an anthropologist, professor of Chicano Latino Studies, and a poet. Her poetry has been published in“Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas”(2011), Chiricú Journal (2021), Ethnic Studies Review (2021), and Saint Paul Almanac (2022). Her first collection of poetry,“Deer Hide Elegies,”will be published in 2023 by FlowerSong Press.