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Image by McKayla Crump


the madrigal, volume v

The Water Wears My Mask

by camila hernández

my race began as the waterfall began –
a state of continuous collapse

still governs its myths, its seven stars,
unfixed or caught
at the sun’s searing edge.

a language of reach and reception wastes away
at the gorge with the tired elegance
of its spineless form. my people have receded
into its rocky graves – the pelting, clenched hush
that travels like a timeless sublime through
the body of the stream, crossing its lace legs
in a tangle of rain-cradling mouths
and mossy tongues.

from our backs, they came
to peel the flaking embers of charred skin
which cover our banks – to disassemble the muscles
in atrophy, in the untouched dunes of scattering
black earth, churned into altars –
so the waves could carve the rock and pray
as it buds, persists, and breathes

in the smoke
which now chokes the kneeling weeds –
these grasses bend with recycled aches, the sting
of loss in the torrents’ saliva, clouding
downstream in its grey-grit
underbelly – the snow clippings
of pre-stained foam now only
dust – the steepest of the landscape’s
blistered fences.

my race urges
me to wrap myself in its flames
and dissolve –
to ward off the debris of its history, yet
a burning

equal to the shrills of a turpial
senses only a flayed stomach swollen
to the brink of evaporation, lodged
between sun-baked boulders asking me

to cross –

with eyes that store all the evidence,
upward glances linger for too long,
the throat is thin-rooted – here
is where i shall be released, here

is where i will digest my way up
past the world’s ear
from the tallest hum
that wrinkles the sky.

my race began as the waterfall began –
and the bottom turns
out to be a fall – an endless
opening out,


Camila Hernández is a 19-year-old Venezuelan-born, Yorkshire-bound poet and student journalist. Her literary, art, and film reviews have appeared in the University of York's Nouse student newspaper. Her poetry has been featured in The Looking Glass and Ice Lolly Review anthologies. She is interested in the cross-pollination of inner and outer landscapes of the self and nature, and how modern and postcolonial visions intersect to show us colours and contours that we'd never dreamt could define us. 

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