Daughter Page Ripped from The Symbol Sourcebook by Jennifer Givhan

I smudge henna above our bed     protect us
from the evil eye     rub it on our grassy

cow’s forehead in the backyard     My ex’s
mama Sally named me La Henna     as a joke

for how my name sounded in Spanish     like I was gringa
until she realized     my mama’s Mexican too

but the apodo stuck     like red rice in the belly

My husband steams the carpets with Fabuloso
purple cleanser Sally once bought from Dollar Store

picking me out dish towels & plastic table cloths
for my all-alone apartment     her son wouldn’t leave

her house for mine     he didn’t love me enough

I’m terrified my daughter will turn gourd & fennel
for a boy who’ll believe she’s no different

than the Maxim or Showtime-bodied targets
he calls women     will hold her head down make her

swallow     The springtime smell of Callery Pear blooms
gorgeous white buds that make me gag

I spit on the sidewalk     La Henna dripping
bloodstone     ghost of a girl who’ll shove bezoars

down a daughter’s throat to keep her from pulling
worms from the stomach     Sex is not a plague

my husband tells me     spring cleaning our sheets
flipping our mattress     redbrick stains menstrual

corral gates dripping rust     relentless in a patch
of spines     darling girl     I’m sorry the body resigns

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize) and Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Series, University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming). Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net 2015, Best New Poets 2013, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, and The Kenyon Review. She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and teaches at The Poetry Barn.