Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. In addition to being the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine, she is the author of Hispanic & Latino Heritage in Virginia (The History Press), Ova (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), and two miniature books from the Poems-For-All series. Her work has appeared in anthologies by Candlewick Press, Civil Coping Mechanisms, ELJ Publications, and other publishers.
Jaguar in the Cotton Field
One month after my mother’s mother was raped with a knife,
she crawled into the coffin that was her kitchen,
drenched herself in kerosene,
and lit her flesh on fire.
Like the man in the park where the saguaros grow,
the flames made my grandmother pray for death,
but death was the jaguar in the cotton field
that fate forbade her from catching.
Fate eventually exercised mercy
when she died in the hospital one week later,
with the spotted pelt in her hands at last.
Though I never knew her, I visit her grave every Sunday
to pay homage to a woman’s pain,
to the ever-shrinking smallness she felt in the world,
to the smallness I myself know.