Persona Poem as Mexican-American Bildungsroman

Julian Robles

Two hands pluck me from a river,
and unfold my pages to the sun. Each

finger’s tongue warns me not
to dry. I comply. I always

have complied. On the journey
north, all my showers were rushed

in emdash. I still remember
the embrace of re-worn

cotton underwear
against my damp thighs—

pages wet and tender as
tongue. On this side, thighs

are best kept damp, grazed verso
to recto. Wet words bleed. If they

ask I speak blood, but say
it sangre, say it abuela, or

desierto. I drowned in a river said
Bravo, and was pulled from one said

Hudson. Here, I claim victories
unitalicized in the sun, and call that

revolution. This is how revolution
is won, apparently: a cousin’s

murder pressed inside me until the pages
yellow, awards stitched ex-

libris in wet-
back and front covers. This is how

a bled book is read.