“La Doppelgänger,” a poem by Saúl Hernández

From the Collection “How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters”

March 21, 2024  By Saúl Hernández

La Doppelgänger

In the bright light of the kitchen table,
I watch Amá take a thin blade. Cuts out

numbers from a card, transfers them to
another. She takes a magnifying glass,

holds it from a distance to not give the
words & numbers she’s putting together

heat. She looks at me, Quítate con tu coca.
I watch her create a new identification from across

the room. Years later, I’ll visit a man at 17
& ask him to create a new identity for me the way

Amá did that night. I’ll watch him cut
& shape a new me, not to survive, but to drink.

After Amá put herself into a new identification card,
she shows me & says, Dale gracias a Dios que tú nunca tendrás  

que hacer esto. In the morning, we mourn the death
of a citizen & welcome the life of a doppelgänger.

Amá lights a candle to St. Judas & asks me to pray
to the universe with her, so doors can open for her.

I kneel next to her, hoping this plastic card can give her
the status she most desires. I didn’t know at the time

sometimes to survive you have to transform—


How to Kill a Goat and Other Monsters - Hernández, Saúl

How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters by Saúl Hernández is available via the University of Wisconsin Press.

Saúl Hernández
Saúl Hernández
Saúl Hernández (he/him) is a queer writer from San Antonio, TX who was raised by undocumented parents. Saúl has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. His debut poetry collection, How to Kill a Goat & Other Monsters (University of Wisconsin Press), is out Spring 2024. He’s the winner of the 2022 Pleiades Prufer Poetry Prize judged by Joy Priest & the 2021 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize judged by Victoria Chang. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net. Saúl’s work is forthcoming/featured in Pleiades, the Split This Rock "Poem a Week" series, Columbia Journal, Frontier Poetry, Poet Lore, Foglifter Journal, Oyster River Pages, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere.

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