Sonnet of the South American Sphinx


2022 Rhysling Award Nominee

Beautiful Nature

She spreads her condor wings and never blinks

her talismanic, liquid copper eyes.

Her jaguar body stretches as she lies

beside the mighty Amazon and thinks

about her unmet thirst. She never drinks.

She hunts whatever traveler she spies,

then sinks her silver fangs into her prize

—unless they solve the riddle of the sphinx.


Her riddle lives in quipus, in the knots

the Inca tied, their secret language some

have spent a lifetime trying to understand.

They say the answer hides among the spots

upon her fur, a mottled, rippling crumb

of thought, unlocking every knotted strand.

Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she works as an analyst and lives with her husband and two sons. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in NonBinary Review, Songs of Eretz, Coffin Bell, Sidequest, Pastel Pastoral, and elsewhere. Her poetry received an honorable mention in the 2020 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest. Find her at