This week in our series 'This Work Will Take Dancing,' highlighting the writing of Latinx writers in the South, we share two stunning poems by Amanda Rodriguez and Steven Leyva exploring the metaphysical terrains, and how spirituality moves alongside of us and the land. Writes Steven Leyva in The Sea We Cannot Call Sea, "Horizon frying / the onion white sails. We travel proud / with only the fricative of our gods."

Read more from 'This Work Will Take Dancing' here.


Absolution is a glistening word.
Nestled in its innards are the slick
twins: Absolute and
Solution. They peddle a promise,
a product, a circle,
a cycle.

Holy water is tap water
in its best Sunday dress.
with the faint aroma of chlorine.

The paint on the rosary
until each naked bead stares
like an opaque eye, cataract
that does not see the sin sitting

on the skin.
Absolution shimmers,
a mirage.

Here is a Sea We Cannot Call Sea

I was grown on the Gulf. Its half-moon
surf stretched from Delta to the shin
bone of Texas – Brownsville! – then

beyond, creasing into the Yucatan's slight grin
resolving in stone on stone, ruins
when a tourist says Tulum.

I was raised in an old fortress of cliffs
guarding the last syllables of an ocean's blind ode,
this toothless mouth, this salt washed memory,

pre-Columbian awe, becomes a parabola
of family taken up by land. No matter which
myths you pick it's an immigrants path.

I was San Pedro Sula and Ab Ovo,
New Orleans and home. The Gulf held the shape
of a bent bow. Barrier islands. Wild light and lotion.

Everyone browning like butter. Horizon frying
the onion white sails. We travel proud
with only the fricative of our gods

fathers, mothers, and cradle-lands
unpronounceable across the border. Calin
then Carlos, then Charles, then anemic waves

Steven Leyva was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas. His poems have appeared in 2 Bridges Review, Fledgling Rag, The Light Ekphrastic, The Cobalt Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is a Cave Canem fellow, the winner of the 2012 Cobalt Review Poetry Prize, and author of the chapbook Low Parish. Steven holds a MFA from the University of Baltimore, where he teaches in the Klein Family School of Communications Design. 

Amanda Rodriguez is a queer, first generation Cuban-American and an environmental activist living in Weaverville, NC. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. Her short fiction, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry can be found in Germ Magazine, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Mud Season Review, Thoughtful Dog, Rigorous, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Change Seven, Cold Creek Review, The Acentos Review, Label Me Latina/o, Lou Lit Review, and NILVX.