Set in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, Diana Marie Delgado’s debut poetry collection follows the coming-of-age of a young Mexican-American woman trying to make sense of who she is amidst a family and community weighted by violence and addiction. With bracing vulnerability, the collection chronicles the effects of her father’s drug use and her brother’s incarceration, asking the reader to consider reclamation and the power of the self.
Most nights I’m face to face with the stars.
No one is more afraid of this than me.
So I find places to lie down
and signify. I’m practicing a play
where my brother’s doing time in prison
and I’m locked out of the house.
Talking is like falling down or
watching your uncle
pull himself into his wheelchair,
the sun moving over
his arms like a blessing.
At least I had a mother
who could sew her name
into my hair.
I want to lie in her stomach again,
understand the drive
to hurt something young,
wild with sky.
My father and brother enter,
and one of them says,
You should start this story
with the death of a child.
“Reading Diana Marie Delgado, I feel the bones she rattles, the blood currents she rides, the imagery and language that spiral up the crushed and diminished voices.”
—Luis J. Rodriguez, from the Foreword
“Multiversed, multivalenced, multivoiced verses where the point of view is singular and the vision, fractured and fractal. Enter this kaleidoscope of poems where ‘the Devil / can dance like a goddamn dream.’ Delgado's long anticipated and utterly unique first collection is a tour de force of luz y fuerza, cariño y claridad, signified and signifying: familiar as a folded tortilla, strange as an estranged father or the moon or ‘riding a horse I can't stop drawing.... / a song in a dream / whose words burn / my hands like light.’ Read this book ‘for feelings’ in a world gone one-dimensional.”
—Lorna Dee Cervantes, author of Sueño: New Poems
“Diana Marie Delgado’s emotionally complex and beautifully rendered debut volume, Tracing the Horse, fiercely and poignantly explores the dynamics of a family fraught with violence and conflict. Chronicling her coming-of-age in La Puente, California, Delgado interweaves the tensions of poverty, sexism, casual cruelty, vulnerability, loneliness, and addiction with startling moments of unexpected beauty and fleeting grace. Her evocative poems unfold with a tensile energy, while being hauntingly revelatory.”
—Maurya Simon, author of The Wilderness: New and Selected Poems