National Poetry Month: Poem by Laurie Ann Guerrero

Sundays After Breakfast: A Lesson in Cotton Picking

South Texas, 1943

It was a kind

of dance: feet

shuffling in dust,


hands like birds:


blood staining

brown birds red.

Cotton sacks, twelve

feet long,

dragging behind

like a tongue—

fat and slow

as sun.

I watch him:

slow weep

of his eye


the girl who’d name

and nurse

nine children.

He picks

my grandma

by the color

of her dress,

her eyes,

and because she's lucky,


by how much cotton

she can pick.

by Laurie Ann Guerrero, originally appearing in A Tongue In The Mouth Of The Dying (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013)

Laurie Ann Guerrero is the author of A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Her poetry and critical works have been published by Huizache, Texas Monthly, and Women's Studies Quarterly, among others. Her chapbook, Babies Under the Skin (2008), won the Panhandler Publishing Award, chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye. Guerrero is a visiting writer at the MFA Program in Creative Writing, University of Texas at El Paso and co-editor of Texas Poetry Calendar 2014. 

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