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WHEN I FIRST found my Maestra, I was looking to heal from a sense of Coyolxauhqui-ness, a dismembered feeling in which all my parts were disjointed and at odds. Through consultation and practice, I spent several months beginning to heal, reconnecting with my ancestors (known and unknown), and finding my way back to the source, Tonantzin, the Mother. Under my Maestra’s direction, I created a ceremony, which I called “Toci Tonantzin: Healing Through the Mother,” to remember and to bring back into the circle everything I have been, everything I am, and everything I’m yet to be.

At the core of my healing ceremony lies the “I am” poem my Maestra instructed me to write. This poem became the circle to hold and remember all of my disparate parts: my mexicanidad, my americanidad, my ni-de-aquí-ni-de-allá, the cristiandad I left behind, the Buddhism that brought me back to the ancestral wisdom of Madre. This poem is loosely patterned after a chiastic form prominent in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. The first and last lines correspond, the second and second-to-last, and so on. And at the heart of the poem is my nepantla.

When saltwater and freshwater meet, they make something new. This in-between water is both ocean and freshwater and also neither at once. I first experienced this type of water when I was floating weightlessly between a lagoon and the ocean in Akumal, Mexico. I swayed back and forth, in awe of this convergence where the two waters met and a new, brackish water was made; it seemed impossible, and yet there it was. That is how I best understand my nepantla, the in-between space I inhabit, the blurry waters that have always been my home, where all my queernesses and transgressions, my seemingly disparate parts converge and cohabit, creating something new and whole.

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This poem is my heartfelt ofrenda to any fellow swimmers. It can be read as it’s written and then again in reverse, where the last line becomes the first and the first becomes the last, like a wave swaying back and forth. May all mother sentient beings benefit.


For all those who have mothered and guided my heart,

  For the teachings bestowed for the love they impart.

    For the spiritual friends who have walked by my side,

      For those gone long before, for my lineage, my pride.

        For the time that I’m grounded on this precious earth

          I hold space, I make silence, I honor my worth.

            This is all that I am.

            I am all this and more.

          In the vast, fertile silence, I rise and I grow,

        With the heaven above, with the earth down below,

      I’m becoming an elder for those yet to be.

    As my people surround me, I know that I’m free.

  With the lessons I’ve learned and the teachings I heed,

May I be as the Mother, who guides, nurtures, feeds.

YOSOY, read by Sergio C. Moreno-Denton

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