The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama

This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Now in Color by Jacqueline Balderrama, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

The Dead Dream Us


Ghosts pass between homes, between cuts of earth,
between hills and rivers—impressions
rippling the gown of a giantess.

Those-who-look-for-her climb into her pressed palms.
They inhale roses, listen to stars chime like church bells.
From there, all the world could fit in her hand.


For the dead, we want to grieve,
for you and your labor, for the churches built
from the stones of your cities.

In the same breath, we must admit, a people grew
despite and from this suffering—its hopeful crossings,
its schools of erasure, its white and brown parents.
And I am a person from this origin
who did not suffer as much.


Some say Our Lady of Guadalupe is an assimilation.
Then she is also mine and my family’s too.
It is difficult to admit this without judgment,
or without wondering if I am a kind of dream
or disappointment for the dead who came before.

The last time my grandfather visits his brother
in Mexico, he says he’s watched all his grandchildren
go to college. And wasn’t this what he hoped?

But in town with his brother’s friends,
he is so old, he can’t remember the language.
Embarrassed, he can only nod, his lips pressed in.

Jacqueline Balderrama is the author of Now in Color (Perugia Press, 2020) and the chapbook Nectar and Small (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She serves as a poetry editor for Iron City Magazine and has been involved in the Letras Latinas literary initiative, the ASU Prison Education Program, and the Wasatch Writers in the Schools. Currently, she’s a Virginia G. Piper Fellow-in-Residence and Clinical Assistant Professor at Arizona State University for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.


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