cover of book

How Long She'll Last in This World
by Maria Melendez Kelson
University of Arizona Press, 2006
Paper: 978-0-8165-2515-7
Library of Congress Classification PS3613.E446H69 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

Let go your keys, let go your gun, let go your good pen and your rings, let your wolf mask go and kiss goodbye your goddess figurine.

With this invocation, María Meléndez beckons us on a journey—an exotic expedition through life’s mysteries in search of the finer strands of experience. In a Latina voice laced with a naturalist’s sense of wonder, she weaves bold images reflecting a world threaded by unseen wounds, now laid before us with an unflinching love of life and an exquisite precision of language. Adopting multiple guises—field researcher, laboring mother, grief-stricken lover—Meléndez casts aside stereotypes and expectations to forge a new language steeped in life and landscape. Whether meditating on a controlled prairie burn or contemplating the turquoise cheek of a fathead minnow, she weaves words and memories into a rich tapestry that resonates with sensual detail and magnifies her sense of maternal wildness, urging us to “Love as much as you / can, don’t throw your heart / away to just one god.” In her paean to the Aztec deity Tonacacihuatl, mother of the gods, Meléndez muses that “How many spirits she’s twin to, and how long she’ll last in this world, / are secrets stashed in the rattle / of corn ears, in the coils / of venomous snakes.”

Through stunning images and stark realism, her poems embrace motherhood and vocation, love and grief, land and life, to bring new meaning to the natural world and how we experience it.

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