One Veined Link
Natalia Mercedes Rodriguez
New York, NY
Riverdale Country School
Claudia Ann Seaman Award
Runner-Up for Creative Nonfiction
She’s a purple polka dot as the sun sets behind my red curtains; making light echo pink here. I thought water would’ve brimmed my eyes into spring but I see through the plexi; mother tall, mother wall as she grips gold and spins knobs. Locks the door and here here here here it is —the cinder under paint plaster, the cocoon cradle, the cutting of colorless cords; less of you in me. “Here,” she pounds her belly flat with a fistful of my firsts; breath, words, laugh, scream, lie. “I came from here here here here.” Says I’ve forgotten this after the scissor and my smile. Says I wobble since leaving the womb.
“You look at me like you don't have a heart”— purple polka dot rains in front of me, a heartless ladygirl who dreams of never coming home. Heartless for leaving. Heartless when I stay. I look at you and cannot feel my second bloom; I tell you when i’m gone, i’m gone—repeated over until it drills; i want to be glitz and glitch in your memory of me, queering to the tip toe, letting a sunny axis spin me around, I do not belong here I do not belong here I do not belong here
I wish you were strong enough to let me go. If it is not the cord that linked our arteries bloody, then it must be the getting used my feet under the kitchen tiles. yet i never had a motherly bone but you are a mother to the bone— I don't think I will ever know how it feels like to feel too good for the thing you poured out.
The intertwining of creative nonfiction and poetry is difficult to accomplish, but this piece does it effortlessly. I’m impressed by the raw emotions that are most certainly rooted in real emotions, and I can feel it spread, filling me with the same sadness and love.
PRAISE FROM PAULA CARTER, POETRY JUDGE
Like a poem, this lyric essay asked me to return to it several times and on each reading I discovered new things. The use of repetition in phrases like “I do not belong here” create a sense of urgency and danger, like someone raising their voice, and develop the tone of the piece. The situation of the essay is unique, but in it there is a universal struggle: the push and pull of a parent-child relationship and the pain that comes from an attempt to control someone. One of the things I love about creative nonfiction is that there are so many different ways to execute it and here we have a piece that in a short space leaves a lasting impression.
Natalia Mercedes Rodriguez is a poet based in New York City. She has performed at Urban Word, The Apollo Theatre, Asia Society, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Public Library and among others. She has won a National Silver Medal for Poetry from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and was the first place recipient of the 2019 Ned Vizzini Teen Writing Prize. Currently, Rodriguez is reading Another Country by James Baldwin and Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR