absence

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Absence
Claribel Alegría

Hello
I said looking at your portrait
and the greeting was stunned
between my lips.
Again the pang,
knowing that it is useless;
the scorched weather
of your absence.

Translation

Ausencia

Hola
dije mirando tu retrato
y se pasmó el saludo
entre mis labios.
Otra vez la punzada,
el saber que es inútil;
el calcinado clima
de tu ausencia.

Photo by Rúben Marques on Unsplash

lightly

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To Go Lightly
Ángela Hernández Núñez

In innocence, eternity is possible.

But I have loved in haste,
with the attentiveness of objects that fly away.
I find myself saying, close the doors.
I find myself saying, love you ought to leave.
I find myself touching lines in the stone.

I think about the women who waited,
not for Ulysses, but for ordinary men.
Those who laid siege to cities,
beyond the great width
of their own hearts.

I have loved after and during the storm.
I carry a burden of light:
it turns the air to ashes.

Translation

Andar ligero

Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 10.33.13

Photo by DDP on Unsplash

here

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Here
Octavio Paz

My footsteps in this street
echo in another street
where I hear my footsteps
passing in this street
where

Only the mist is real.

Original

Aquí

Mis pasos en esta calle
Resuenan
En otra calle
Donde
Oigo mis passos
Pasar en esta calle
Donde

Sólo es real la niebla

Photo by Goran Vučićević on Unsplash

all you shining stars

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All You Shining Stars
Christian Wiman

Three kinds of hair in the brush one love
has left on the kitchen counter.
Four kinds of cries when it occurs as one
to blow off school and go to the mountains.
And later, over the river, when the upturned duck
never turns over, five kinds of silence.

Always our elsewheres are also here,
like tributaries so intuitive they seem
almost incidentally literal, tiny trickles
in wildernesses too immense to enter,
the cold clefts and the drastic drops,
cliffs of unthinkable ice.

Three kinds of sleep in the hum home
down the dark valley back to New Haven.
Four kinds of dreams behind the headlights,
the world springing into being ten feet at a time.
Five kinds of time when one love wakes up
and wonders where we are, and one wonder
wakes up another, and another, and another.

Photo by Will Swann on Unsplash

lines written

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Lines Written In the Days of Growing Darkness
Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Photo by yukari harada on Unsplash

everlasting self

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The Everlasting Self
Tracy K. Smith

Comes in from a downpour
Shaking water in every direction —
A collaborative condition:
Gathered, shed, spread, then
Forgotten, reabsorbed. Like love
From a lifetime ago, and mud
A dog has tracked across the floor.

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

illumination

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Illumination

Natasha Trethewey

Always there is something more to know

what lingers at the edge of thought

awaiting illumination as in

this second-hand book full

of annotations daring the margins in pencil

a light stroke as if

the writer of these small replies

meant not to leave them forever

meant to erase

evidence of this private interaction

Here a passage underlined there

a single star on the page

as in a night sky cloud-swept and hazy

where only the brightest appears

a tiny spark I follow

its coded message try to read in it

the direction of the solitary mind

that thought to pencil in

a jagged arrow It

is a bolt of lightning

where it strikes

I read the line over and over

as if I might discern

the little fires set

the flames of an idea licking the page

how knowledge burns Beyond

the exclamation point

its thin agreement angle of surprise

there are questions the word why

So much is left
untold Between

the printed words and the self-conscious scrawl

between what is said and not

white space framing the story

the way the past unwritten

eludes us So much

is implication the afterimage

of measured syntax always there

ghosting the margins that words

their black-lined authority

do not cross Even

as they rise up to meet us

the white page hovers beneath

silent incendiary waiting

Photo by Anirban Ghosh on Unsplash

age 18

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At the Age of 18 – Ode to Girls of Color
Amanda Gorman

At the age of 5

I saw how we always pick the flower swelling with the most color.

The color distinguishes it from the rest, and tells us:

This flower should not be left behind.

But this does not happen in the case of colored girls.

Our color makes hands pull back, and we, left to grow alone,

stretching our petals to a dry sun.

At the age of 12

I blinked in the majesty of the color within myself,

blinded by the knowledge that a skinny black girl, a young brown teen,

has the power to light Los Angeles all night,

the radiance to heal all the scars left on this city’s pavement.

Why had this realization taken so long,

When color pulses in all that is beauty and painting and human?

You see, long ago, they told me

that snakes and spiders have spots and vibrant bodies if they are poisonous.

In other words, being of color meant danger, warning, ‘do not touch’.

At the age of 18

I know my color is not warning, but a welcome.

A girl of color is a lighthouse, an ultraviolet ray of power, potential, and promise

My color does not mean caution, it means courage

my dark does not mean danger, it means daring,

my brown does not mean broken, it means bold backbone from working

twice as hard to get half as far.

Being a girl of color means I am key, path, and wonder all in one body.

At the age of 18

I am experiencing how black and brown can glow.

And glow I will, glow we will, vibrantly, colorfully;

not as a warning, but as promise,

that we will set the sky alight with our magic.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

against rage

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Against Rage
Frank Bidart

He had not been denied the world. Terrible
scenes that he clung to because they taught him

the world will at last be buried with him.
As well as the exhilarations. Now,

he thinks each new one will be the last one.
The last new page. The last sex. Each human

being’s story, he tells nobody, is a boat
cutting through the night
. As starless blackness

approaches, the soul reverses itself, in
the eerie acceptance of finitude.

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash