“Ciguapa” by Mario Ariza

                                  After a painting of a Dominican folk demon by Firileé Báez

A woman named Sterling offered me cocaine,
leaned in with corpse breath during the full moon,
told me that to capture a ciguapa one must track her
at midnight. She said, You have to do it with a black
white polydactyl dog.
She held my palms open,
told me that women with their feet turned
backwards, vengeful Taina women with matted hair
and the thin moon in their obsidian teeth
drove my body in its past life away from its home,
came through with the vaguada rains and stood outside
the leaking hut, singing, coo, coo, coo,
while we all the kwashiorkor children huddled
inside. She peeled holes in the bark siding,
peeped an onyx black eye in, stuck her oily hand
through holes in the wattle and daub
until my sister in a foul mood – helminthes starved – Dios
la salve,
grabbed a boiled plantain
threw it, threw another
fed the ciguapa all we had till she,
Sterling, pulled back from my hand and said: look,
sleep is a brother to death, and yawned.

That dawn I found a yellow feather hanging from my ear.

Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant and a Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program. His poetry can be found in places like The Cincinnati Review, Gulf Coast, and The Raleigh Review, and his journalism appears in places like The Atlantic and The Miami New Times. He is executive editor of Sinking City Magazine, and an editorial fellow at The New Tropic.