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'Sor Juana' by poet Florencia Milito

Born in Argentina, Florencia Milito spent her early childhood in Venezuela and has lived in the U.S. since she was nine. She is a bilingual poet, essayist, and translator whose work has appeared and is forthcoming, in ZYZZYVA; Indiana Review; Catamaran; Entremares; Digging through the Fat; Diálogo; 92nd Street Y; Kenyon Review; and Latina Voices, Protest, and Struggle in 21st Century USA.

Florencia is a Hedgebrook alumna, CantoMundo fellow, and Grotto fellow. Her book of poems "Ituzaingo; Exiles and Reveries" was published in 2021 by Nomadic Press.

Sor Juana

Mexico, 1694

Dear Reader,

watch the Inquisition

on horseback

galloping after our poet,

who, weighed down by her habits,

arrives at an abandoned Carnival,

seeks refuge in the Hall of Mirrors,

but instead of her reflection

sees a headless Hypatia,

driving her red chariot

around and around.

Only a thin sheet of glass

separates the two,

and Sor Juana is dizzied

by the spinning.


It had been raining for days

that summer like a tantrum,

flooding the city,

ruining the crops.

The people spoke

of strange white-eyed birds.

At dawn, the sky a sliver of apricot,

roaming the garden

of the convent,

her heart fluttering:

miedo, miedo

her drenched robes tight

against her breasts,

she sees a fallen fledgling

under the purple jacaranda.

Featherless, translucent,

its beak so yellow

it seems painted on,

its tiny neck broken—

she reads her fate

in the delicate ink

of its veins.