Cervantes's poetry, which is mostly confessional and semi-autobiographical, often depicts and critiques the various oppressions that she saw around her as she came of age. Yet many of the poems in the book, almost half, are less explicitly "Chicana"—here, I mean Chicana in the sense of covering a certain set of themes (like Aztlan, the Spanish language, etc.). These less political poems deal instead with loss, grief, nature, and death. One of my favorites is called "Starfish." This poem, told in first person, follows a narrator whose fascination with the hundreds of starfish s/he finds on the beach stems from both the loveliness of the specimens as well as their impending death. Cervantes writes: "little martyrs, soldiers, artless suicides/In lifelong liberation from the sea." Cervantes is someone who often gets pigeon-holed as a Chicana poet (a term Cervantes is certainly proud to claim, by the way), but reading her collection in its entirety offers a more expansive understanding of what themes count as "Chicana," and what kind of writing counts as "political." Almost every poem in this collection feels rich with imagery, yet still manages to create a narrative. While these poems read quickly the first time through, many are compelling enough to warrant re-reading and unpacking.
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