Literature 11-19-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Vanessa Ramos

A new poetry competition cycle is beginning, so get your poetry submissions together. Deadline for the next round of What Light poetry contest is November 25.


Creation Story

 my mother puts the needle to the blue flame on my grandmother’s stove    

threads the eye with a vein , a crimson pulse

years ago, she begins

when your body was still of earth, I planted a song in your throat

she touches my undeveloped chest with her fingernails,

tracing a shape over the space where my heart should beat                    

the song was pipe-like and placed beneath a nose and mouth I had not yet completed

I found it in the desert underneath a gray stone

her hands shiver in the current of electric air between us          

for a time I carried the song with me

she pulls the vein through my skin,               

connecting her heart to my own

each day, I sat and watched the tubes branch like

 a tree from your center, their swollen balloon-like ends

 expanding into the upper reaches of your chest, a tree of life

and in this way, I am bound to her

your breath anchored in song

and in this way, you are bound to me

with surgical precision


now that I am older,

lovers trail their fingers along the scars snaking across my skin,

and when they ask about the history of my body, I tell them:


Personal history as myth infuses Creation Story, a poem loosely based on the memory of my mother removing a sliver from my fingertip with a needle she first heated on the stove. In an article titled the “The Inner Story,” Helen Luke discusses C.G. Jung’s notion about the inner myth—how our own story is formed in response to great mythic archetypes that manifest in our day-to-day lives. This interplay between myth and reality, for me, is a generative force.


Vanessa Ramos is a student in the MFA program at Hamline University. She recently completed a Many Voices residency at the Playwrights’ Center (2006-2007) and is working on a play for children titled Cuentos. She was a participant in the Loft Mentor Series (2005-2006) for nonfiction and also named a finalist in poetry. Currently, she is on the roster for the Writers and Artists in the Schools (WAITS) program through COMPAS. Her work has appeared in BorderSenses. She lives in Saint Paul and wishes she had a dog.