Leah Huizar

Consider menudo—word like mundo which suggests a world,or, in this bowl, many spinning bodies. Intestines floatover heaps of hominy anchored in chile broth and citrussqueeze. We eat. Sundays in San Diego taqueriasthe patter and heave of slurping on slippery organsrises in a sung homiletic. My father tells me of a placedeep in Mexico's belly where everyone looks like us—hard tufteyebrows like slabs of meat heavily cut, the kindmade soft over heat, over time. Oh, infinitely variableMexican supper of substitution: trade honeycombtripe for carnitas—the diminutive flesh, the affectionate -ita,as in cariñita, little loved one (if love were feminine), little brownbouquets cinched by a rub of fat. In California's Inland Empire,my aunt's stove hums a drum-pot of soup, an incantationolder than the New World, a pre-Columbian stock bubbling at lipslately made. In Mesoamerican myth, man was createdthree times. The mud of earth made man mute and motionless;wood turned him forgetful and soulless. Only the pliantdough of two types of cornmeal could shape the knots and joints,the new formed limbs of this human flesh.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Leah Huizar is a Mexican-American writer and poet. Originally from Southern California, her writing and research centers on the cultural and historic landscape of the West Coast and the ways in which gender, religion, and colonization have shaped it. Her work has been published in the Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod International Journal, Acentos Review and elsewhere. Her debut collection of poems, Inland Empire, was published by Noemi Press in 2019. She holds an MFA from Penn State and is an assistant professor of English at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

She can be found online at www.leahhuizar.com

"We have been waiting for a historic retelling like this—that shows us what has been built and what exists underneath, as if we are gently running our hands down a striation and seeing how each layer came to be. We have been waiting to understand the myth of our mothers, our grandmothers, and ourselves as we carry an intangible force onward, carefully, as if the womb is a book with unexpected and florid clarifications. In Leah Huizar’s debut collection, stereotype falls away as we become immersed in the world of complex magnetism, where menudo is the origin of identity and a grandmother passes on a mythic power to 'speak without saying, to release without giving in.' It is a great relief to see history told like this, released from the packed earth as 'brown Madonna, belly swollen with hybrid.'"
—Analicia Sotelo

"Leah Huizar creates an inland empire of the human heart as well as a geographic and historic one, in this groundbreaking collection. A grandmother spirit-guide, 'rich beyond/ landowning dreams,' passes on her gift for telling of 'the plots erased.' Mesoamerican myth, incantations 'older than the New World,' and 'centuries of Mexican memory' undergird these original, smart poems. Huizar’s unforgettable characters and ghosts conjure a California forever enlarged by her vision."
—Robin Becker

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.