Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016). Her second collection, Incantation: Love Poems for Battle Sites is forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press in fall 2023. Her writing, teaching, and organizing are inspired by her family and Chicana experience. She writes to cultivate love and comfort in chaotic times.
As they become known to and accepted by us, our feelings and the honest exploration of them become sanctuaries and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring ideas.
– Audre Lorde, “Poetry is Not a Luxury”
I tell a man straight for the first time, “I need to be valued,” and a hot pink tropical flower blooms. I step back to see the many retaining walls I’ve built. I recognize these as fears, and vines grow and stretch until every border is reclaimed. As the garden becomes more lush, more green, so, too, my voice becomes more rich. Soon call outs echo through the valley, and each one becomes a tree to sit under and rest. I put my hand to a knot in a thick trunk of an oak and ask her to hold me. Trees are homes that need caring. Their roofs need fixing. To speak truth is an upkeep. I welcome others to sit under trees, to bring their blankets and their poems.
We call it a mitote and wear magnolias in our hair. Like ears, their magenta petals are best suited for holding our tears. Our screams are the fertile soil holding the bones of every woman’s scream that came before us. Our breath and saliva feed the hills we build together. The hills our nieces and daughters climb to paint birds, be an ocean.