Creative Writing

I Have Seen The Bluest Blue

by Natalee Cruz

Poetry, 2022 - Creative Writing at The New School

Ugly Duckling Presse

I Have Seen the Bluest Blue, Natalee Cruz’s debut chapbook, grapples with the deportation of the speaker’s step-mother and its effect on the family. On the inside cover of the book is a screenshot of a letter of support written by the father’s employer, which Cruz riffs on with disjointed lyrics and scattershot stanzas.

This form is replicated across the first section of the book, which is composed of nine versions of a poem titled “To Whom It May Concern,” and despite subtle variations the poems all retain a singular emotional core.

Through refrains and repetition, Cruz enacts a series of minor but meaningful adjustments to the poetic settings at work: less brightness, more contrast, less color, higher resolution. The result is a tender and genuine articulation of a family’s ongoing anguish.

The second half of the book switches to the step-mother’s point of view, and from a fixation on the color blue, to pink, “not a happy pink” but one “that screams / don’t / let me off easy.” These poems echo the formulaic phrase uttered at the opening of a court hearing: “May it so / please the court,” with Cruz gradually reducing the text of the poems, until we’re left with only the bare bones of the very real barrier separating the family.

And yet, the book ultimately arcs toward hope, culminating in a prayer for reunion:

  Soon we’ll forget the cold shivers of February

and the birds will sing    alongside the monarchs migrating closer to Mexico,

up and over walls, the furious wings, a burnt orange tide.

REVIEWED BY DIEGO BÁEZ (this review is an excerpt, for the full text go to

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