'Cave Dwellers' by Emmanuela Copal de León
Cave Dwellers, Emmanuela Copal de León, 1999.



Teaching about the Hungry Woman
Rusty Morrison


“Who knows a creation myth?”

Six hands go up—
Juan’s cholo-drawing pencil lifts,
a conversation about cutest boyfriends stops.
There’s interest here.
I see Coyote
conniving under Julio’s breath,
three fingers strumming his initial-carved desk.

Toan offers to tell about Eve and the snake.
Maria bites, “Eden’s no myth, Chink!”
Every hand drops.
A scabby silence ensues;
peel nails, pick teeth, be cool.

Henry adjusts his jacket, hiding
the ancient turtle he had just conjured up
with the world on its back.
The enormous raven ready to rise
from Anna’s shoulder
folds himself away under his wings.
The ladder Sylvia had set up
to the hole in the sky
is gone.

Only my story left to tell:
how there was once a hungry woman
with mouths in her wrists, mouths
in her elbows, ankles, knees.
With so many mouths
she could have eaten up all the heavens,
but the angry gods
tore her into pieces first.
Scattering her mouths everywhere.
They make our world.

“Can’t she put herself back together?”

“Are the mouths still hungry?”

You tell me.







Text © 1996, 1999 by Rusty Morrison
"Teaching about the Hungry Woman" first appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Volume II, Number 2. The work appears here by permission of the author.

Original Graphic Image, "Cave Dwellers" © 1999 by Emmanuela Copal de León

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