Anchor Baby

VAR Matter


Vanessa Angélica Villarreal is a writer, mother, and first generation immigrant born in the Rio Grande Valley borderlands to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Pinwheel, Buzzfeed, Epiphany, Southern Indiana Review, Apogee, Poor Claudia, PBS Newshour and elsewhere. She is the author of the collection of poems, Beast Meridian (Noemi Press, Akrilica Series, 2017) and is currently pursuing her doctorate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.


Anchor Baby




CHILD’S PLACE OF BIRTH                      Name of Hospital or Location McAllen General, the hospital I was born in

is no longer issuing birth

certificates to babies born to


CHILD’S INFORMATION                          Time of Birth Had I been born today,

we would be transported forty am/pm

minutes north to Hidalgo Detention

Center to await deportation.

MOTHER’S LEGAL NAME                                    Along the way, discarded parts:

bracero arms line the crop rows Plurality

las pizcas split bone from flesh

our mothers

CHILD’S LEGAL NAME                             pick the fruit from

our mouths

to feed someone else’s


MOTHER’S RESIDENCE                            A twinning of line

ages, our trailer on the lip did mother give up rights to the child

of the river is the first place they’ll look——

overturn each hunched back bronzing the field

MOTHER’S EDUCATION                          our bruised mothers wrap

us in broad braid and bone

already so disintegrated by

February cornblue

flowers on white sheets 8th grade or less


if yes see item 53                                         off to every suit and uni

form I fill out

because I also grew a spine in that

noncitizen womb

WIC RECIPIENT FOR BIRTH?                 each whorl of ache a kind of lotus

                                                                        eaten so that the return is a melancholy

                                                                        of forgetting and the country claimed

the country

that poisons us anyway,

this failure to remember this stake

in my eye does not stop the baby,

that bright arrival a relief


tight as a tongue.

PRESUMED FATHER’S INFORMATION           My mother missing her mother missing

sees my missing

country of origin unity with

mixed-up blood: acknowledgement of paternity


why is s/he so dark

is s/he really yours


denial of paternity




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