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Vanessa Angélica Villarreal reads Aracelis Girmay's poem, "First Estrangement".


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Hi.  I'm Vanessa Angélica Villarreal and today, I'll be reading "First Estrangement" by Aracelis Girmay.  I chose this poem because this book came out the year before my book was scheduled for publication and during that year, I was struggling with a manuscript, how to order it, furiously editing, trying to make it accommodate a voice that perhaps wasn't mine, and there was a deep encouragement that I got from this book from poems that gave me permission to sort of plunge into a legible memory fragmentation tenderness and to write from that center.

First Estrangement

I do not remember back then
when I was trying to leave one world
for the next, my girl-mother on the table,
all her darkness torn 
for our two-headedness,

when around our violence floated 
the universe, & we, 
the naked astronauts
at our ends, at our beginnings,

years away from that staggering
out of one depth into another,
I remember her when I crack, again,
open the (already) starlight of the pomegranate,
when I bow my ear down toward it like a deer
without knowing why or from where 
the hunger comes, faintly it screams

the memory of stars, 
of estrangement, the lungs
pumping with air 

how I take, & take
what I cannot give back