I N H E R I T A N C E


B Y   L E S L I E   C O N T R E R A S   S C H W A R T Z 

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the author of FUEGO, published by Saint Julian Press. Her work has been published in Storyscape Literary Journal and is upcoming in Tinderbox Literary Journal and Glass: A Journal of Poetry

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L


My body holds pockets full
of other bodies, secreted cells of my parents,
inside my grandparents, nested
in an infinity of theirs and theirs.
I am made of those sweat-filled
sheets of sorrow,
a clothesline of flinching blouses
waiting for that slap and back-beat

to dry. My mother hiding under the house
of my body, my body the leather belt
from which she is hiding.
My organs of wrist that wring and wring
into prayer of tied up and drowning,

my body’s water-filled Mouth, my great-
uncle choking on grass and oil drip
in Buffalo Bayou as it swallowed up
the swim and summer. That endless
body of water, always a fitful of 
pump and pin, pinning
the Maya woman, my greater grandmother, 

and folding her near the heart, that beast 
of a muscle made of slurs: Contreras, Moreno,
Hernandez, Aguirre. Cheek-to-jowel with Bantu 
slave dropped in a world of wild, squeezed into
a fist. The Spanish of my body
butchers the trees
until the landscape is bald.
Black matter trees, those rows of 
empty and erase
forming hurt-shaped branches
that drip and drip and drip and drip