Milky Way by Anita Velez-Mitchell

An artist interested in many disciplines, Anita Valez-Mitchell is perhaps best known for her role of Anita in the Broadway Musical, West Side Story. But beyond being a stunning dancer, she is an equally talented film maker, poet and playwright, so much so that she was even awarded the Julia de Burgos prize for her bilingual book-length poem, Primavida: Calendario de Amor. Her connection with Kansas is a surprise to me and seems to have its genesis in her childhood, that is, if the poem has any literal meaning. In any case, her poetry, her background and her connections with Kansas are all pleasant discoveries.

Included at the poem’s conclusion is a link to Anita’s reading of a slightly revised version of this poem on Youtube (which proves a poem is never really finished) for your consideration.

The Milky Way

I am in empathy
with the Kansas sky.
Ghost clusters of clouds
bring back my childhood
when I’d stretch out
on the welcoming grass
and see, deep into space,
my absent mother.

Here she is again
moving tenderly across
my aching heart.
Her florid cotton skirt
turning from white to
deep purple as she hides
then reappears
as if pulled back and
forth by a sacred hand.

Mami, I cry out
into the ghost-loved world
but there is no echo
to my call from afar.
Like a glow swathed in dust set to keep us
apart, my mother’s ghost
fades away to make
way for a star.

Here, as promised, is the link to the video: Anita Reads Milky Way

This poem can be found in “Chance of a Ghost: An Anthology of Contemporary Ghost Poems” published in 2005 by Helicon Nine and edited by Gloria Vando and Philip Miller, ISBN: 1-884235-38-7, $14.95 + $3 S&H, and can be purchased at

2 thoughts on “Milky Way by Anita Velez-Mitchell

  1. Pingback: No Reason, Brave Cravens – poem « Variegated Vision

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