Poetry: Palindrome by Isabella Piedad Escamilla

At the center of our dying is a “Palindrome,” Isabella Piedad Escamilla’s new poem argues, a creature within a creature. With gothic urgency, the work wants to see what’s crawling around inside your body.


A squirrel passing through a small clearing
at the bottom of a fence gets caught by

a wire. Blood. Fur. Taut paws. He keeps going.
The fence in his back like a box cutter slicing
through a velvet couch. Even as he’s spilling out,

I can’t help myself from crossing the street. It’s too
early to bloody my hands. Yesterday, I learned that

cockroaches can’t feel pain; they sense only
that death comes if they don’t move. My friend
says this is why we can do anything in lab, it’s impossible
to torture them. Right wing resting on the sidewalk
attached to a dried organ. The car hit the bird

so hard that I can’t tell what any of it is. Filling
flowing out from the aging couch. I vomited clear
bile halfway through brushing my teeth this morning.

Cutting chicken breast into soft cubes, I think
about my grandmother. How she used to garden

and how my grandfather loved telling me about
it. Once, she found a snake coiled up with the garden
hose. She panicked, cross-sectioned it with a shovel.

She found the mouse the snake had just eaten
in its split body. If you don’t move fast enough,

death comes. We didn’t find anything in her body after
she was murdered in her bed. We hold so many bodies
in our own bodies. Most of them go to waste.


Isabella Piedad Escamilla

Isabella Piedad Escamilla is a Latinx poet from Salinas, California. A recent Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets fellow, she currently lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she studies genetics and poetry at Purdue University.

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