CENZONTLE, BY MARCELO HERNANDEZ CASTILLO
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s first book of poetry, Cenzontle, is a beautiful and dark rendering of life as the other in America. His poems explore the margins; being queer, a Mexican immigrant, among many othered roles. The collection takes on the soul of the mockingbird who soars over the nesting grounds of childhood and family, sexual discovery and marriage, racism and rejection⏤overshadowed by the following request: “Can you wash me without my body / coming apart in your hands?”
It's through Castillo’s use of symbols of light, fields, shapes of water, and hands that he exposes and dismantles notions of intimacy, displacement, and the desire to be found. He weaves the fragility and curiosity in his speaker's voice to images of nature, providing a home within or around each body that the poem takes on: “You open me up and walk inside / until you reach a river / where a child is washing her feet.” With Cenzontle, readers fly too, journeying with Castillo to places of birth, escape, bereavement, and love.