"People to Run From" by Diana Marie Delgado

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January 23, 2023 

People to Run From

Diana Marie Delgado

After dinner, I’m mailed back to my father in a suitcase.

The tablecloth is edible. Gold is edible. God is edible too.

Don’t believe the words on the table—they’re not food.

I’m worried someone will walk in and take my plate away.

The men I grew up with ate white rice burritos.

Sometimes the stars feel nearby. Sometimes they write.

When my parents fought about rent, the ends of my body came and went.

My father climbs out of my body at night in search of gold chains

He can pawn at Don Roberto Jewelers.

At some point, a pattern will emerge—at some point, all of it will make sense.

A vast table, laid out with fruits, vegetables, and smoked meats.

Gold is edible. Fathers are edible too.

Mom makes a list of chores for my brother and I to avoid being slapped

Or asked to assume the position from across the room.

We are nuisances, embarrassments, party-squatters to teenage parents.

At my cousin’s wedding: birria, red rice and potato salad.

Then into the bathroom—I go.

I try but can’t stop putting certain things inside me.

For a long time, I thought all girls were disciplined this way,

Thrown into the dark to reckon with thoughts.

He told me the vein inside had broken—put that in my book.

Fairy tales about girls who’ve been wronged.

Copyright © 2023 by Diana Marie Delgado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“‘People to Run From’ is the first poem in a series where I braid shards and scenes, creating a non-linear narrative that mimics the impressionistic elements of memory. Collaged together, the pieces are meant to replicate the fractured nature of trauma; experiences circle but never engage with an invisible but ever-present center. This form is of great interest to me because, when pulled across the page, every memory is of note; for instance, the line, ‘[t]he men I grew up with ate white rice burritos.’ In the context of this poem, the line means nothing—yet it bears everything.”
Diana Marie Delgado

Diana Marie Delgado is a Chicanx, Mexican American poet and the author of Tracing the Horse (BOA Editions, 2021). The recipient of grants and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among other organizations, she is the literary director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Tracing the Horse
(BOA Editions, 2021)


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