Transient

Fiction / Cecca Austin Ochoa

:: Transient ::

Celeste Cien­fue­gos and her so-called per­ma­nent social work­er Mau­reen drove toward the tem­po­rary fos­ter home, Fog Orchard, where Celeste would spend the sum­mer. They sped across the San Rafael bridge, the last stretch slop­ing down­wards as though head­ing into the water, as though the slight­est rise in sea lev­el would send the bay pour­ing across the lanes.

Mau­reen, Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices, Fam­i­ly Resources Divi­sion, smiled opti­misti­cal­ly. “I know it’s far,” she said, “but you’ll be around peo­ple who get you. You might even enjoy your­self. What do ya think?” Mau­reen wore a pen­dant, a small pearl trapped in a sil­ver tear that twirled between her big breasts.

Celeste shrugged and fid­dled with the fram­ing nail in her left ear beneath a cloud of curly brown hair. The nail had been a part­ing gift from Lizzie. “Stay tough,” she’d said, as she pushed it through Celeste’s burn­ing lobe. Lizzie was the tough one, with her shaved head and her tat­tooed hands, tear ducts in a more per­ma­nent drought than Cal­i­for­nia.

Mau­reen con­tin­ued, “Whether or not you move back in with your Grand­ma after this, I want you to fin­ish high school next year. What do you want?”

Celeste stared out the win­dow with a dewy look. “World peace?”

Shit!” Mau­reen slammed on the brakes as a car swerved into their lane. Celeste pressed her cheek to the win­dow. What did she want? To be a shim­mer­ing mirage dis­ap­pear­ing as soon as any­one got too close. If that girl hadn’t got so close, Celeste would still be at home. But, her not-yet-in-bloom, sapling fig­ure caught the sparks of that girl—known to Celeste as a homo­sex­u­al, les­bian, dyke, car­pet munch­er, etc. She and the girl snuck off in the late after­noon light and laid down behind the hous­ing com­plex, Hope Gar­dens, and rubbed their bod­ies togeth­er like two snakes in the wet grass. A month lat­er, when she felt her­self in the fiery whirl she’d lat­er call love, her Grand­ma found them twist­ed around each oth­er like the knot of a noose. Per­verts, she said, and smacked Celeste so hard, the flame snuffed out.

Celeste’s Grand­ma, who’d kept a long list of her granddaughter’s short­com­ings, nev­er expect­ed much, but she had not expect­ed a queer. She shuf­fled around the house in her day gown—like a night gown, but kha­ki, and with pock­ets full of men­thol lozenges, keys, and kleenex—muttering, Bad Blood. She’d always known it, Bad Blood, that Celeste: seedling of her per­fect­ly white daugh­ter and a spic who aban­doned their bas­tard child to an old lady, Too old, she told Celeste—her chin for­ward and her back hunched like a mound of pulp—but, not afraid to die alone.

 

Fog Orchard sat an acre back from the road, shield­ed by spi­dery red­wood trees. Mau­reen pulled up beside a trac­tor and hand­ed Celeste a smoke detec­tor and a bat­tery.

Pro­to­col,” she said.

Celeste slumped down in the seat, her heart sud­den­ly pound­ing. She thought she’d, maybe, vom­it.

Don’t be shy,” Mau­reen wagged a fin­ger, “I have to get back before traf­fic.” She swung the car door open, and Celeste stepped out onto the cracked dirt. A man with a point­ed head and a wide waist waved from the porch. His name was Wal­lace Crow, semi-retired from the restau­rant busi­ness, a bari­tone, cheeks pink with acne scars.

Mau­reen left after a quick tour of the house. The place smelled musty like the inside of a dried-up spice jar, with oth­er fun­ny smells lurk­ing around the cur­tains and rugs. The room that Celeste would sleep in was up a wide stair­case. It had a bed and a chest of draw­ers. In the top draw­er she found three smoke detec­tors; sit­ting on the pil­ly bed cov­er, she plugged the bat­tery into hers. A green light blinked on.

Celeste’s Grand­ma changed the locks on the doors. At least I’m free, Celeste thought as she braced against a bench for four windy nights in the park down the street from her high school. The first two nights she slept alone, but on the third she felt eyes on her, and after that she didn’t sleep at all. Since she was across the street, since she had nowhere else to go, she went to her class­es until a teacher told her, You smell like A-S-S. She left and nev­er went back; the police picked her up for loi­ter­ing, then came social ser­vices.

The first social work­er dropped her at St. Bethany’s Home For Girls, a four sto­ry stuc­co com­pound that smelled like baby shit and cucum­ber hand lotion. “But I’m not real­ly that kin­da girl,” Celeste said, with­out rais­ing her eyes. The social work­er asked her if she’d pre­fer cor­rec­tion­al. Celeste shook her head and crawled into the bunk, tem­porar­i­ly hers. The plas­tic mat­tress cov­er rum­pled beneath her; the babies squealed all day, all night; and anoth­er new girl, Lizzie, crawled up beside her after the lights were out and whis­pered, Hey, chap­ar­ri­ta, into her neck. She didn’t know what it meant, but it felt like a warm purr. At least, she thought, star­ing at the glow of the smoke detec­tor, she might get some sleep at Fog Orchard. Even if it were only tem­po­rary.

 

Crow knocked on the door a few hours lat­er. The yel­low hall­way light reflect­ed on his thick-framed glass­es, and she couldn’t see his eyes. The oth­er res­i­dent, Luca, stood behind him.

We’re going to check out the gar­dens. Feel like get­ting your hands dirty?”

Is it required?” Celeste asked.

Might as well,” Crow said. “It’s nice out­side.”

Celeste stepped into the hall­way and pulled the door closed behind her. It must have been five p.m., but the sky was as baby blue as morn­ing. Luca had fawn brown hair that hung over his shoul­ders; he twist­ed it back and forth between his fin­gers.

When’s your birth­day?” he asked, slow and qui­et like he was afraid of his own voice.

Decem­ber 1st.”

Oh. I’m a fire sign, too.”

Celeste scanned her­self for some sign of fire, but felt only the haze of smoke. Crow took them through the rows of gar­den beds behind the house. Most of the crops had just been plant­ed; they stood neat­ly in their soil mound: speck­led corn, heir­loom toma­toes, squash, deck­le-edged mus­tard greens.

What’s that?” Celeste asked, point­ing to a row of green vines and hap­py leaves tied up to a stake.

Legumes,” Crow said. “The roots put nitro­gen into the soil. Which helps the oth­er plants to grow.” He told her about how they man­aged with the drought, the grey water irri­ga­tion. “We’re lucky for the fog here. Some of these plants suck the water right out of the air.”

She nod­ded her head and looked up to see the tow­er­ing red­wood trees bounce their long arms in the breeze.

 

Luca had been liv­ing with Crow for three years; he’d just turned eigh­teen. “A lot of kids come and go,” he said. “Not me.” He wore all black and stitched the holes in his clothes with den­tal floss. He left home after his father broke his arm and threat­ened to kill him if he ever came back. One year he lived on the street, knew Anar­chists, ate out of dump­sters. “Most of that trash is per­fect­ly good,” he said. But he got an infec­tion, wound up at SF Gen­er­al, and that’s when social ser­vices got involved.

Celeste fol­lowed Luca around most days, shov­el­ing manure onto the beds, pulling weeds, watch­ing the spindly toma­toes thick­en and unfurl toward the sun. She stuck her fin­gers deep into the dirt and plant­ed hex­es: one for the teacher, one for the court judge, one for the eyes in the night. She pet the com­frey leaves, lambs’ ears, like the back of Grandma’s hand, sick­en­ing­ly soft. Fog Orchard was not the out­doors she knew; not the strips of grass where the unem­ployed and the old folks sat wait­ing for noth­ing on park bench­es all day; not the aban­doned lot, over­grown with weeds and piled with bro­ken liv­ing room fur­ni­ture. A wilder nature. Luca col­lect­ed leaves and hung them on his wall: oak, red­wood nee­dles, mag­no­lia, aspen, pop­py, the long tails of gar­lic. They changed from sup­ple into a hard­ened shell, then brit­tle, then crum­ble.

Dur­ing the day while Crow and Luca were out in the gar­dens, Celeste would some­times wan­der indoors and through the rooms of the house. There was a thrill to being alone in so much space, like she owned it. All of it. She’d touch the leaves on Luca’s wall, rub them between her fin­gers until they turned to dust. She’d rest her chin on the dress­er where Crow kept pho­tos of his deceased hus­band, lick her lips at him. She opened Crow’s draw­ers. Beneath a pile of socks, she found a dis­turb­ing image. At first, she thought the man in the pic­ture was dead. He had a black plas­tic bag duct-taped over his head, and his arms were chained to wood­en beams, almost like Jesus. It wasn’t until she saw the man’s erec­tion that she real­ized what she was look­ing at. She felt empa­thy flut­ter in her chest. Per­vert, she thought, and hur­ried out of the room.

 

Lizzie had been a child pros­ti­tute, so-called street-involved, and the clos­est thing Celeste had to a friend. They’d spent many an after­noon at St. Bethany’s locked in the dou­ble stall bath­room, huff­ing the clean­ing prod­ucts stored under the sink. Time would slow and wob­ble like jel­lo, a chem­i­cal undu­la­tion. The flu­o­res­cent light above them frac­tured into beams of pri­ma­ry col­or, and they’d look at each oth­er and laugh like they were slap hap­py at a slum­ber par­ty.

Celeste rang Lizzie every week from Fog Orchard, or “Fos­ter Farm,” as Lizzie called it. “I wish you’d come back to earth,” Lizzy said. Celeste heard babies shriek­ing in the back­ground. “This girl keeps try­ing to fight me, say­ing she’s on a mis­sion from God to kill fag­gots. I told her, ‘you wish God had giv­en you big­ger arms, then.’ I could snap her with my fin­gers.”

From where the phone was in the hall between the kitchen and the liv­ing room, Celeste could see out the win­dow to the red­wood for­est. The sun and shad­ows twist­ed around the giant trunks. “I kin­da like it here.”

I wish they’d teach us some­thing use­ful, though. Like what, you’re gun­na grow up to be a farm boy?”

Rich­mond was a world away. Some­times Celeste couldn’t tell which world was the real one. Just like she couldn’t under­stand a thing about her­self, like why she found her eyes lin­ger­ing on Luca’s back as he worked under the cold sun in a tight tank top, his strange spine exag­ger­at­ed like chain links, even though the rest of him was soft. His arm mus­cles were round as pup­py bod­ies. And if she found him look­ing at her, well, her stom­ach leapt like she’d been thrown in the air.

 

Crow had a meet­ing in San Francisco—his friend was open­ing a restaurant—so he invit­ed Luca and Celeste along for the ride. Luca called Jesse; he braid­ed his hair, tucked a sprig of laven­der behind his ear.

Pret­ty,” Celeste said, and climbed into the buck­et seat. Jesse was a trans kid who had stayed at the farm for a year, until his sis­ter in Berke­ley adopt­ed him. “A whole year? How’d he man­age that?” Celeste want­ed to know. When Luca and Crow said he, the pro­noun became a rock in a stream; they paused before glid­ing over it. What was he up to these days? Oh, he stud­ies herbal med­i­cine. Will he come up to the farm? Yes, he will.

Crow parked the truck on the cor­ner of Cas­tro and 16th. Celeste crawled into the driver’s seat and rolled down the win­dow. The street was loud, and every­body walked like they were some­body. Across the street bare chest­ed men smoked cig­a­rettes on a bar patio, all mus­cle and scruff. One of the guys pulled anoth­er in for a ten­der kiss.

Are you seri­ous?” Celeste checked the rear-view mir­ror for the per­son who’d scream, Per­verts! No one seemed to be watch­ing but her. “Where do all these Ken dolls come from?”

Luca sat qui­et­ly, eyes in his lap.

Do you think they’re hot?” Celeste asked. “Tell me who’s hot.”

There’s Jesse.” Luca nod­ded and got out of the truck. Jesse had elfish cheeks, a round bel­ly, and a gold­en fro. He wore big met­al rings on his thin fin­gers and a long gauzy shift. He walked like he was some­body, too. Maybe he was.

Luca grabbed him with both arms. “You look real­ly great,” he said. Celeste leaned against the build­ing Crow had gone into. Jesse and Luca sat on the cement steps in front of the restau­rant door, both with their legs spread open, elbows on knees.

Jesse smiled, his voice tin­ny, like he was hold­ing his nose. “Like my beard?”

Celeste stroked her chin and imag­ined feel­ing coarse hair beneath her fin­gers.

Off my steps.” The door opened and a small bald man stepped between Jesse and Luca.

They’re with me,” Crow said, fol­low­ing behind him and rolling his eyes. He pat­ted Jesse on the shoul­der pater­nal­ly.

Oh!” The man’s voice turned sud­den­ly cheer­ful. “I for­got you run that orphan­age.” He swooped an arm at the facade, detail­ing his plans, “Tou­jours Gai, scrawl­ing cur­sive.”

All gays are not cre­at­ed equal,” Jesse said.

Why don’t you dar­lings wait in the truck,” Crow said with a wink. They jumped into the truck bed, waved their arms to music that climbed out of an open apart­ment win­dow. Crow, Jesse told Celeste, was from the bour­geois-zee, bless him. His hus­band died in the epi­dem­ic, and ever since he’d fos­tered queer youth. “He’s prac­ti­cal­ly a saint, but he gets sick of us. He only keeps Luca around because he’s so damn good-look­ing.” Jesse and Luca gig­gled, and Celeste stared out at the street. She watched the men stroll by in their rolled up shorts and plaid shirts, their leather hand­bags and impen­e­tra­ble sun­glass­es. Who were they?

 

The next morn­ing at Fog Orchard, Jesse sat at the kitchen table with a book, The Secret Life of Plants, and stared med­i­ta­tive­ly into the pages. “Do you know what a ‘per­fect flower’ is?” he asked Celeste, who was fix­ing her­self break­fast. “It’s a flower with both male and female parts. If you were a flower, I think you’d be a this­tle.”

Luca strolled into the kitchen and laughed, a warm sound, an octave too high. “I like this­tle.” He ran his fin­gers through his mane of hair, pulling at the long strands, let­ting them tum­ble across his chest. Celeste exam­ined the two bod­ies before her. She hadn’t sus­pect­ed that Luca liked Jesse in that sort of way, but she could see now the over-wide smile on Jesse’s face and Luca’s erect nip­ples like bur­gundy but­ton snaps.

Is testos­terone safe?” Celeste inter­rupt­ed.

Is liv­ing in a body that isn’t you safe?” Jesse replied.

Celeste looked down at her bag­gy jeans, mud splat­tered com­bat boots; she walked out­side, let the screen door slam behind her. She won­dered what she would look like as a boy; just the thought of testos­terone made her walk a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, as though the hor­mone were already flex­ing in her blood. In the weeks that she’d been there, the gar­den had trans­formed into bloom. The plump bras­si­cas and toma­toes, the smell of green and tang and warm dirt. She walked through the rows, nod­ded to each of the plants. Do you hear me? Celeste asked, and the wind rushed by and the plants whis­pered. Celeste crawled between the corn with their rip­pling stalks stand­ing tall as war­riors. She lay in the dirt and looked up, the leaves arched above her like a vault­ed ceil­ing. She felt the boy more clear­ly than she’d felt him before, soft­ly rat­tling along her bones. “Fag­got,” she whis­pered aloud; the word sent a trick­le of plea­sure down her throat.

Jesse left the next day. Celeste watched, slip­pery with jeal­ous curios­i­ty, as he and Luca came back from the for­est, sticks on their clothes, red­wood nee­dles in their hair. Fuck you, Luca, she thought, but she wasn’t real­ly mad. At sun­set she climbed up a hill and watched the sky change. She imag­ined love as a gate­way of fiery light that she’d walk through and arrive on the oth­er side trans­formed: loved, a lover. So far, she’d passed through, but nev­er arrived.

 

Mau­reen came in late July. Celeste had been look­ing for­ward to her vis­it, some­one com­ing to see her and her alone, some­one who knew she was some­body. “You look relaxed,” Mau­reen said. “Must be all the veg­eta­bles.” She sat on a tow­el on the couch on the porch. She pulled out her note­book and read a court notice aloud. Some­thing about “dis­solv­ing guardian­ship,” or what­ev­er. Celeste felt her gut clench and dread swarm her chest. “Crow is going to take you to court next week. I’ll be there too. It’s like­ly that you’ll be placed back at St. Bethany’s until you turn eigh­teen. It’s only a year.” She waved her hand as though a year were noth­ing at all. “Then you’ll phase out of the fos­ter sys­tem.”

Celeste saw the gold­en spi­der threads that bound her to her Grand­ma dis­ap­pear in a puff, saw the yel­lowed hall­way of the court build­ing, a busi­ness card tucked into a door jamb, Have You Been the Vic­tim of A Crime? Celeste real­ized she was hold­ing her breath. The image of the man in Crow’s pho­to­graph came to mind. Did he like suf­fo­ca­tion? She took a deep breath, but didn’t feel relief. Out in the yard the grass waved, the plants swayed, lift­ed by the air. The con­crete yard behind St. Bethany’s was sur­round­ed by a tall fence and video cameras—installed after one of the girl’s boyfriends, high on PCP, broke in and tried to steal “his” baby. It had a lemon tree.

That’s some­thing to look for­ward to,” Celeste said.

Lat­er she called Lizzie to tell her the news. A girl answered, “Lizzie? She’s gone.”

Where?” Celeste asked. It had only been a week since they’d last spo­ken.

Cor­rec­tion­al,” the girl said, then hung up the phone.

 

On the night before court, rain clouds appeared in the sky. “It’s a mir­a­cle!” Crow shout­ed as sliv­ers of rain began to fall. Celeste helped Crow roll out all the blue plas­tic col­lec­tion bar­rels. The plants hun­kered in the mud, their ghost­ly roots draw­ing a long drink so that tomor­row the leaves might stretch a lit­tle wider, grow the flow­ers into fruit. She wouldn’t be there to see if the rain made the plants hap­py, but it didn’t mat­ter because she loved the plants. A plant lover. When all the bar­rels were out, they sloshed through the mud­dy yard into the house; Crow plod­ded behind her.

Think the drought’s over?” Celeste asked, pulling off her sog­gy sneak­ers.

I doubt it,” Crow said, stand­ing in an expand­ing pud­dle.

I want­ed to ask if I could stay a lit­tle longer.” Celeste stared at the clumps of mud along Crow’s shoes, a tiny moun­tain range, a lake, a val­ley. “But I know you’d say I can’t.”

Crow sighed, “The fos­ter sys­tem, it’s like musi­cal chairs. And now, I’m going to start sell­ing pro­duce to this restau­rant, so I’ll be busy.” He smiled. “It was only meant to be tem­po­rary.”

With her mind, she pulled his smile off his face and drowned it in the mud. “This place is for per­verts any­way,” she said, and she walked up the stairs to her room. A spark of rage shot up her spine.

I’ll make us break­fast in the morn­ing before we go,” he called after her. “Pervert’s spe­cial.”

Celeste couldn’t sleep. The rain pat­tered on the roof, slid down the win­dows, and it felt like every drop plunked against her head; the bed made her itch—was it damp? —and the green glow of the smoke detec­tor seemed to fill every dark crevice in the whole room. Celeste slipped down the hall toward Luca, knocked light­ly on his door; the floor creaked and the han­dle whined open. He stood with his chest out, hair tied back in a pony tail, his face whiskery but fey.

Hey, this­tle,” he said.

Can I sleep in here tonight?”

He paused and looked down the hall, as though some­one might be watch­ing. “Okay,” he said and opened the door. He flipped off the light and the room sank into total dark­ness. They talked for a while about lit­tle things. The squash flow­ers, the greens that were already bolt­ing too ear­ly in the sea­son. Then Luca rolled away from her and whis­pered good­night.

She told her­self, Don’t get too close. She lay on her right side at the edge of the mat­tress so that her left hand hung over. She took in the pep­pery smell of his sheets, wait­ed for his breath to slow. When it did, she scoot­ed towards him, just half an inch at a time, until her back was against his. She felt the hard­ness of his spine, the curve of his but­tocks against her own. A heat drift­ed across her, a dan­ger­ous heat; kerosene dripped down her legs; she couldn’t help her hands from reach­ing for her own body; the fric­tion ignit­ed flame and the whole bed caught fire. For hours she lay par­a­lyzed by the burn. But, when she woke up the bed was cold and emp­ty.

 

 

From the writer

:: Account ::

My sweet­ie just cel­e­brat­ed ten years since he tran­si­tioned. On that anniver­sary, we talked about how eight of those ten years were under Oba­ma. We can look back on those eight years and see the incred­i­ble growth of trans and queer vis­i­bil­i­ty blos­som­ing on the sur­face of main­stream cul­ture. There’s a whole gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who grew up with gay par­ents, or have friends who did, non-het­ero, non-cis kids who are out and open about their gen­der and sex­u­al­i­ty in grade school. Of course, we’re all wor­ried about how the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion will try to sab­o­tage the gains that we have made on this and a num­ber of oth­er social fronts. I was think­ing about this fore­bod­ing a lot as I worked through the final drafts of “Tran­sient.” To be young and queer is pre­car­i­ous: it was ten years ago, it is now, it looks like it will be for years to come. I fear that the pre­cious few resources that exist now to sup­port queer and trans youth may suf­fer a blow we can’t afford. 40% of home­less youth are LGBT, despite only 7% of youth iden­ti­fy­ing as such. The top two killers of teenagers, after unin­ten­tion­al injury, are sui­cide fol­lowed by homi­cide. Queer youth are four times more like­ly to attempt sui­cide than straight youth. These sta­tis­tics hold a mir­ror up to how lit­tle has actu­al­ly changed, despite how much has.

The first draft of “Tran­sient,” I wrote in grad school as a reac­tion to Flan­nery O’Connor’s “A Tem­ple of the Holy Ghost.” In that sto­ry, two boy-crazy high school girls go to the cir­cus in a rur­al town and see some­thing so dis­turb­ing they are moral­ly afflicted—and, these are two girls who find morals “sil­ly.” From what’s revealed, the read­er can assume an inter­sexed per­son is work­ing one of the cir­cus tents. I won’t both­er to gan­der here at what O’Connor’s inten­tions were, some­thing about the “mys­ter­ies of the eucharist.” But, what I picked up loud and clear from that sto­ry is the fear and moral revul­sion the char­ac­ters feel when they encounter a gen­der non-con­form­ing body. There are many more rel­e­vant exam­ples, but this one’s on my mind: I recent­ly re-watched Mrs. Doubt­fire, for no good rea­son. When the lit­tle girl catch­es Mrs. Doubt­fire pee­ing stand­ing up (read­ing her beloved nan­ny as trans­gen­der, not her dad in drag), she says, “I’m gonna call the cops!” These sto­ries are told almost forty years apart, but the het­ero­nor­ma­tive gaze crim­i­nal­izes, pathol­o­gizes, and mocks gen­der non-con­form­ing bod­ies just the same.

In that first draft, I want­ed to write the inverse of that gaze. I start­ed build­ing what would become Fog Orchard, a place for queer youth in a rur­al set­ting, youth who have to burn through the haze of homo­pho­bia, trans­pho­bia, and bear wit­ness to the per­ver­sion of the het­ero­nor­ma­tive gaze. By the time I picked this sto­ry up again, I had no inter­est in writ­ing a reac­tion to O’Connor. The most inter­est­ing part of my first draft, to me, was that a farm where queer and trans youth lived implic­it­ly meant that these kids had bro­ken from their ori­gin fam­i­lies. And thus I arrive back at the idea of queer youth home­less­ness and the poten­tial for sanc­tu­ary. The late queer the­o­rist, José Este­ban Muñoz, wrote exten­sive­ly about the ephemer­al nature of queer utopia in Cruis­ing Utopia. Since queers are out­siders to the con­struc­tions of the het­ero world, the places we occu­py are them­selves tran­sient. And, con­sid­er the way white suprema­cy, cap­i­tal­ism, and patri­archy inter­sect with queer; where one fag finds utopia, anoth­er finds oppres­sion. I want­ed to show Celeste’s momen­tary glimpses of utopia: high in the bath­room with Lizzie, lying on her back beneath the corn at Fog Orchard, shar­ing a bed with Luca. She is a resilient char­ac­ter, and these small moments of sanc­tu­ary will feed her. But the seed of this sto­ry is the seed of many real-life queer sto­ries: rejec­tion, dis­own­ment, dis­gust. That’s the lin­ger­ing smoke in the air. I hope we can move through that, replant, and con­tin­ue toward a more per­ma­nent sanc­tu­ary.

 

Cec­ca Austin Ochoa is a fic­tion writer and essay­ist. She serves as Man­ag­ing Edi­tor for Apogee Jour­nal. Her writ­ing has appeared in Nat. Brut, Kweli Jour­nal, and else­where; and she is anthol­o­gized in Pari­ahs (SFA Press, 2016) and IMANIMAN: Poets Writ­ing in the Anzaldúan Bor­der­lands (Aunt Lute Press, 2016). She is a 2014 Alum­nus of Voic­es of Our Nation’s Artists and a recip­i­ent of the Astraea Foundation’s Les­bian Writer’s Award for Fic­tion.