Queso de Patas
güera they called my mother, whitest of seven siblings, though she was never white as snowor milk—her skin tinged amber like the Mexican cheese that smelled of feet that I refused to eat as a child, convincedthe cheese was mixed by rancher’s bare toes, like grapes mashed to make some tawny wineand from brown and cracked soles acquired its yellow color, inherited the yellow skin, odorous hard wheelthat did not melt, only crumbled when fresh or aged would shred upon metallic scales to sawdust or confetti strands that,when sprinkled, exhaled a pungent breath of naked feet that have kissed the earth, stroked bare cement floors, caressed the skinof other feet, and from contact grown callused but beautiful, that if covered must breathe through open-toed shoes—huaraches, thatwas my mother, the güera needing air and when her flesh was tossed into the melting pot, she resisted, the strength of callused soles,hard, ungrated as she tread upon this foreign soil barefoot, an acquired taste that if you smelled and did not eat, you could not understand
From Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2020).
Copyright © 2020 by Benjamin Garcia.
Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions. (milkweed.org)
All rights reserved.
Benjamin Garcia’s first collection of poems, Thrown in the Throat, was selected for the 2019 National Poetry Series by Kazim Ali. He is a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow, was the 2017 Latinx Scholar at the Frost Place, and was a 2018 CantoMundo Fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2018, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and New England Review. Garcia received his MFA from Cornell University and currently works as a sexual health and harm reduction educator in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Selected by Kazim Ali as a winner of the 2019 National Poetry Series
"Much will be written, I suspect, about the many identities that Benjamin Garcia explores in his debut collection, Thrown in the Throat . . . But I hope that in the process, reviewers don't overlook the lyrical inventiveness and formal prowess that Garcia displays in these poems. It's that melding of craft and subject and language that makes this an extraordinary collection."
—The Rumpus, July 2020 Rumpus Poetry Book Club Selection
"In his inventive and daring debut, Benjamin Garcia confesses ‘my mouth has many uses: / eat, sing, bite, kiss, but most of all / insinuate.’ He gleefully tongues words; muscles syllables into sonic-rich lines attuned to public and private dictions, histories. I love his unrepentant and acrobatic language. This collection is furiously queer, ecstatic, bilingual, sarcastic. It refutes shame and doesn’t plea for forgiveness. Thrown in the Throat is a spectacular debut that’ll be studied and read for a long time."
—Eduardo C. Corral