Yael Valencia Aldana is a Caribbean Afro-Latinx writer and poet. Yael and her mother and her mother’s mother and so on are descendants of the indigenous people of modern-day Colombia. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University (FIU). Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Typehouse, The Florida Book Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Scapegoat Review, Antithesis Blog, and Slag Glass City, among others. She teaches creative writing at FIU, and she lives in South Florida with her son and too many pets.
To Watch Her Face Fall
I am wounded
my washi thin skin darkens with blood
frayed open flesh ragged
at the edges. I don’t want
to tell her, to show her—
but she will ask.
I can bear it alone, the weight of this upset, knit
the lesion back before I see her,
continue the interlacing of fascia after
I see her, conceal the bruise
the sliced skin—
but she will ask.
I harrow then sear watching her face crest and fall
watching her shining shadow. If only for a few
minutes till her face brightens,
till her mouth dances to distract
from my harm.
Our love is this silent chaffing.
Bodily harm becomes invisible shadowing
barely darkened imperfections, a closing
over that will smooth—
return to unblemished perfection
to all eyes but ours, only us aware
of the slight scar lightly covered in hair.
Smoothing over her face that fell.
She cannot forgive because it was me
I cannot forgive because it was her—
her face that fell.
She wants to go back. Soothe
with words as slim as apple chips.
Soothe with her rhythmic voice
that rises and falls in waves.
Our faces slick over, leaving only slight
sharpening in the corners of the shields
in our eyes squinting, glinting
She will say it’s alright and not mean it
I will agree and not mean it.
We will put our glossy heads together,
draft new plans for unnamed streets.
She will hold my hand tighter
which is the only good bit. Until I am ready
to leave the hearth of her protection
sheathed in armor we will temper