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
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 Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.