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Mud City is an online literary journal promoting the ideals and vision of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Low Residency MFA Program.

Jessica Cuello

Jessica Cuello’s first book, Pricking, was published by Tiger Bark Press in 2016. Her second collection, Hunt, was the winner of The 2016 Washington Prize from The Word Works and will appear in March 2017. Jessica is also the author of the chapbooks My Father’s Bargain (2015), By Fire (2013), and Curie (2011). She was the winner of The 2013 New Letters Poetry Prize, a winner of LUMINA’s poetry contest (selected by Carolyn Forché), the recipient of a 2015 Saltonstall Writing Fellowship and the recipient of the 2014 Decker Award from Hollins University for outstanding teaching.


The Whiteness of the Whale: Chapter 42

Your enemy.

Stare. You made out


my body in the dark,

dumb and glowing—


a churchyard of snow.

A December field

but for the pink tongue


and prickly shadows. It was a shock.

A phantom, nothing to discern.


A giant blank. You used the eyes

of others to watch


for my body, strange

and shivering. Painted on top,


dressed with skin.

The paint was a lie

but the act of painting was real.


You stood on the abyss.

My body dove. It was speckled,


brown, earth-bound. The whiteness

was your own mind looking on.