Steven Sanchez

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Steven Sanchez

Saturn Devouring His Children

            after Goya’s Saturno Devorando a su Hijo

Germanic and Romantic,
English is a tower

of kids in a trench coat
who fall from my mouth

like the children you wanted—
we named them, those strangers

who smiled from stock photos
on bargain store shelves.

You told me I need them
to learn Spanish, to have a relationship

with my mother. One summer,
she shared her blanket with me

on the grass where we waited
for you and your nephews.

Limited to present tense, I was
not sure how to describe

the life I wanted to share
together. Lo siento, no entiendo

mucho, pero estoy muy feliz
para los…fireworks. We smiled

a lot and gestured. An early bottle
rocket whistled through the cloudless sky.

I pointed, but it was too late—
only a trail of smoke remained.

I haven’t heard from you in years.
I still practice Spanish as if

one day I will finally translate
my grief, will finally break English

and become fluent in my future
tenses where verbs are allowed

to exist without will—without
that final testament—and

my tongue will no longer be
an executor.

Steven Sanchez reads “Saturn Devouring His Children”

Steven Sanchez’s book,  Phantom Tongue  (Sundress Publications, 2018), was chosen by Mark Doty for the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. A CantoMundo Fellow and Lambda Literary Fellow, he won the inaugural Federico García Lorca Poetry Prize for an emerging Latinx poet. His poems have appeared in  Agni,  American Poetry ReviewThe Missouri Review, and elsewhere.