MK Chavez


MK Chavez (Oakland, CA)



I am my mother’s negligee,

pale and antiqued, like the fluff

of her slippers.


When I remember my mother she is soft

like she wasn’t towards the end.


I picture her at the San Francisco Zoo

in a mini dress and platforms, precarious.


I held her hand in the lion’s house

and father wanted to stay

to watch the feeding

and she could not.


I held her hand tightly

because if I held

it tight enough I thought

I might become part

of her and then neither of us

would have to be so alone.


When my mother lost her mind

for the fifth time (it was early

enough that we were still counting)

her father called her blasphemy,

beast and possessed.


It was the time of being a girl,

then an armadillo,

then the meat torn apart


by the lions. As I was devoured

I asked politely, “ Is this what

becomes of the body?”

I have never stopped

searching for the clothed

animal from which I came.


We were living in the end

times. It was in vogue to name

a woman who you’ve hurt

crazy or daughter.


*originally appeared in Chavez’s collection, Mothermorphosis (Nomadic Press 2016)


MK Chavez pic
Latinx writer, MK Chavez is the author of several chapbooks including Mothermorphosis. Dear Animal, her first full collection was released in October 2016 by Nomadic Press. Chavez is co-founder/curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She is a fellow with CantoMundo and San Francisco Grotto. In 2017 Chavez’s poem The New Whitehouse, Finding Myself in The Ruins, was selected by Eileen Myles for the Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Award, and she was a recipient of the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award.