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About this poet

Raquel Salas Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and grew up there and in the United States. Rivera is the author of x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation), which won the 2018 Ambroggio Prize and is forthcoming from Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe in 2019. Rivera is also the author of lo terciario/the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, as well as tierra intermitente (Ediciones Alayubia, 2017) and Caneca de anhelos turbios (Editora Educación Emergente, 2011), both of which were published in Puerto Rico. Rivera is co-editor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets. They currently serve as the 2018–2019 poet laureate of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they live.

memories of the good daughter

pitorro is what cows use at night to remember day.
god's wine hangs from balconies to signal it's safe.
tourists buy towels with parrots,
on their way to my town.
if they even pass through my town.

my town, which is my mother's town.

we stop by añasco's post office.
we have a task list.
i still have hair.
they recognize me as sotero's granddaughter.
we climb up the stairs to a tobaccoed sofa
full of withered flowers as if this were maría.
they bring us coffee and soda crackers.
i listen to unrecognizable names,
and learn these are my blood.
i don't speak this language,
but they lend me the words.
how is yoli? and school?

my first girlfriend is from a similar town.
we text each other in the bathroom.
i tell her i miss her.
she tells me they're going to the church retreat.
when i come out, my body molds itself
to certain postural expectations.

morning's dimensions are tricky,
a word i acquired in california or nebraska.
it means my uncles enter and leave the house,
so i can't watch tv by myself.

múcaros divide the land amongst cousins.
they fly according to lines drawn in the treaty.
i go into town to buy eggs and on the way
i roll down the front seat window so the humidity
can enter with cold peach light.

i don't understand what sort of memories i'm supposed to have.
one where i didn't go with my boyfriend to the movies every friday,
where i didn't waste my time looking at shoes or eating at el mesón?

maybe one where i didn't lie to my family for years,
faking i was the good daughter,
or one where they don't tell me it's okay,
as they step outside to water the plants.

my grandmother's hand on my chin says qué linda.
with this accomplishment, the fossils rest and i rise.
but i wasn't asleep, nor good, nor a daughter.


las memorias de la hija buena

pitorro es lo que usan las vacas para recordar el día.

el vino de dios cuelga de los balcones para señalar que es seguro.
los turistas compran toallas con cotorras,

de camino a mi pueblo,

si es que pasan por mi pueblo.

mi pueblo no es sino el pueblo de mi madre.

vamos al correo de añasco.

existen las gestiones.

tengo pelo todavía.

me reconocen como la nieta de sotero.
subimos escaleras hasta un sofá atabacado
con patrón de flores marchitas
como si esto fuese maría.

sacan café y galletas de esporsoda.
escucho nombres irreconocibles.
aprendo que estos son mi sangre.
no hablo este idioma,

pero me prestan las palabras.
¿cómo está yoli? ¿y la escuela?

mi primera novia es de un pueblo similar.
nos texteamos en el baño.

le digo que la extraño.

me dice que van al retiro de la iglesia.
cuando salgo, mi cuerpo se amolda
a ciertas expectativas de la postura.

las dimensiones de la mañana son tricky,

una palabra adquirida en california o nebraska.
significa que entran y salen los tíos de la casa,
y no puedo sentarme a ver televisión sola.

los múcaros dividen el terreno entre los primos.
vuelan según las líneas trazadas por el acuerdo.
bajo a comprar huevos y de camino

bajo la ventana del asiento delantero
para que entre la humedad
con la luz de melocotón frío.

no entiendo bien qué clase de recuerdos se supone que tenga.
¿una donde no fui con mi novio cada viernes al cine,

donde no pasé tiempo mirando zapatos o comiendo en el mesón?

quizás una donde no le mentí a mi familia por años,
fingiendo que era la hija buena,

o una donde no me dicen que está bien,

mientras salen al patio a cuidar las matas.

la mano de mi abuela en mi mentón me dice qué linda.
con este logro, descansan los fósiles y despierto.

pero no dormía, ni era buena, ni era hija.

From x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación)(poems for the nation). Copyright © 2018 by Raquel Salas Rivera. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press.

From x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación)(poems for the nation). Copyright © 2018 by Raquel Salas Rivera. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press.

Raquel Salas Rivers

Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera is the author of x/ex/exis (poemas para la nación) (poems for the nation), which won the 2018 Ambroggio Prize.

by this poet

poem

                                        for nina droz franco
drag
                 arrest
                                we assume the worst

but nina burns holes in the air
and we are also ashes
of another fire


en peñuelas tumban

2
poem

for oscar lópez rivera

you make two knots
so that years and names
can climb up or down

uniting thick and thin threads
simplicities and opacities
tense and resolved dialectics

your eyes are closed fists
that guide your hands
so the ribbon may last centuries

2
poem

in spanish, we don’t naturally occur. the seasons differentiate us from natural people. when there are no seasons, let’s say, when we are a caribbean country, better yet, when we are a territory, we aren’t allowed to use the x, except for the word xylophone, because who uses a xylophone? and who