"Perseverance" by Deborah Paredez

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June 7, 2021 

Perseverance


Deborah Paredez
18 February 2021

Weve landed on the planet named after the god of war and the powers
out all over Texas my mothers buried under her grandmothers
quilt while theyre looking for signs of life on the surface of the long-dried lake-
bed my cousins huddling around the clay pot heaters theyve rigged
from overturned geraniums and the candles they keep lit
for the dead the heatshield reaching extreme temperatures in the final moments
of descent ice-sleeved branches cleaving from their trunks and downing
communication lines and lines and lines down the block for whats left
of clean water in the ancient river delta the rover arriving to drill down
as scientists cheer in control towers oil men feast and fatten
their pockets craters across the desolate expanse early
transmission from the hazard avoidance camera can't help
but capture its own shadow darkening the foreground.

Copyright © 2021 by Deborah Paredez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“On February 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars, beaming back awe-inspiring photos of the red planet. Meanwhile, back on earth, largely due to corporate greed and political malfeasance, Texas was experiencing a massive electricity generation failure that left millions without power, food, and water during severe winter storms. While the metaphor of perseverance felt somewhat too ‘on-the-nose,’ I still felt compelled—with the help of enjambment and unwieldy syntax—to scream into the void about this dark irony.”
Deborah Paredez

Deborah Paredez’s most recent book is Year of the Dog (BOA, 2020), a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award. She is also the author of the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory. The cofounder of CantoMundo and a professor of creative writing and ethnic studies at Columbia University, she lives in New York City.

Year of the Dog
(BOA, 2020)

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Thanks to Anaïs Duplan, author of Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture (Black Ocean, 2020), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read a Q&A about Duplan’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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