cover image Woman Without Shame

Woman Without Shame

Sandra Cisneros. Knopf, $27 (176p) ISBN 978-0-593-53482-3

The introspective latest from Cisneros (Loose Woman) sweeps through her life with blunt observations and heartfelt prayers. The frequent use of Spanish words and fresh images of quotidian moments of life in Mexico (“when dawn arrives/ with her furious scent of bolillos,/ orange peels, and.../ Fabuloso” and “my heart... a peeled mango bearing an emerald housefly”) act as both description and invitation. In short, lyrical poems, Cisneros juggles religion (“God Breaks the Heart Again and Again until It Stays Open”), humor (“I Should Like to Fall in Love with a Burro Named Saturnino”), and politics (“A Boy with a Machine Gun Waves to Me”). In keeping with the book’s title, these poems bare her past in the more personal work about sex (“You Better Not Put Me in a Poem” begins with a list of images of previous lovers’ penises: “a curved scimitar,” “a fat tamale plug,” and “a baby pacifier”), about almost dying (“Year of My Near Death”), and about aging (“This loss of the/ right ear’s hearing,/ No cross.// I only half listen/ Anyhow.”) These plainspoken, affecting poems reveal a writer fortified by a sometimes difficult past who has come to embrace the freedom that comes with self-acceptance. (Sept.)