Two poems by Amanda Ireta

Spell for a Full Moon in Mercury Retrograde, or: Prayer for La Llorona Who is Me

Spell for a Full Moon in Mercury Retrograde, or: Prayer for La Llorona Who is Me

Phase one, casting:
Arrive early.
Meet a wrong woman and disappear.
Listen to half-truths. Accept the stories about you. Feel
your throat climbing into the pit of your bowels.
Bite your tongue.
Let slip too much and too little. Feel
the knot in your throat choke your voice.
When it is over, collect glass. Feel
its edges beneath your fingertips.
When you feel like you’ll fall apart, say goodnight.
Here is the key: walk away with a spine like steel
then bend it when you climb in the car.

Phase two, setting the base:
Pre-set your role to Little Songbird,
pajarito cantor.
Enter the family home like sunshine.
Coo and sigh. rustle your skirt.
When in doubt, point one red-heeled pump, neatly.
At the first sign of trouble, fold.
Feel the weight slowly collapse one lung.
Speak one truth, laugh. Salt to taste.
If you feel your scream rising, swallow.
Set aside two teaspoons of hope.
If you feel your face slipping, smile.
Rinse, repeat.
Ask the question whose answer
you’re afraid of.
When she calls you indifferent, take it
and remember that her pain is greater
Because it is a mother’s pain.
Believe this story. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Phase three, releasing:
Gather the night.
Upon receipt, collapse. Do so with grace.
Believe the action, not the word.
Remember that this is an ancient pain,
eons and eras older than you,
And therefore—survivable.

Proceed to your home under lamplight.
Glance at the phone screen, feel
Your breath hitch, twice, thrice.
When you feel the wail coming, spin three times.


This is where it overtakes you:
Ten blocks from home, an unholy cry
Like the woman from the stories—
chingada, Llorona, Maria, Malinalli
While you ride through the darkest night.
Let the tide wash over:
Feel the desert dunes the alchemist travels over, and
the monsoon a witch woman records, and
the Sotano del Barro with its 23 pairs of mated macaws, and
the arctic crush and the southern wind, and
the sweltering wet heat of the forest
in the mountains, all the mountains, stone, rock, and
the wetlands bordering a tundra, and
every beast great and small
all roar
all at once
inside you
and let go.
(SCREAM hasta que te hartes)

To ground and open:
Pull up quietly and
Breathe, two, three, four
Know that the words are power.
Pull out the laptop and sit
Like a maniac
In the dark quiet to pound these keys.
This, on the eve of a great refreshing (which
You knew might bring answers, too.)
Settle in. Breathe.
Open yourself with a cleansing,
draw a bath in the darkness,
and think of Tlazolteotl, the Eater of Filth.
Lower yourself into the scalding waters.
Give the great mess of you
(monstrous and ordinary)
over to the heat and silence.
Use the oil soaps, wash
The streaky bits off
Let the salts do what they will
(Sometimes, this is what I can offer you: just the body of me,
and my heart within it.)
Wait for the pregnant moon to call
Remember your spirit soul snake

And emerge.

Dictionary (Revised)

Dictionary (Revised)

The first time I walk through the gates
into the sanctuary of a library
I sit with my uncertainty,
what stories we can tell each other—
How to hold them aloud
when the page isn’t enough

Weeks go by and
echoes of conversations
follow through the days
leaving their mark, indelible

I notice myself unfurling,
loosening a knot
in my chest
until my laughter
is a light within my hands

Here are the edges expanding,
new pages opening
to hold the sacred space
we make together

What if we break bread
when we read a passage,
share it like the finest morsel,
shape sound into words
that nourish hungry hearts?

I carry within me
an unknown dialect,
a happening
resonant in my throat:

Someday I will write you
             rivers, currents carrying everything
into all the places I cannot travel,
             dropping prayers like freshwater pearls
holding every moment sacred
              seeding connection

Welcome, I say with my whole being.
Snaps for affirmation
Mmmms for Amen, Asé
Leaning in to receive
Head bowed in reverence

My heart is a seed broken open,
split wide by the gift of you,
radical new growth
tearing its way through me
into everything I do

This is what I take into the world
carrying memory, longing
Reshaping and molding myself
into something like love—

Amanda Ireta (she/they/ella/elle) is a Mexican immigrant, secret poet, graduate student, ritualist, teatrista, and hedgewitch living in South Texas with their partner, plant and animal kin.