Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Selected Works, Angela Acosta

Mourning at Dawn 
I want to know that you were with me,
the night I sped down the highway into morning,
hoping that the mourning would cascade into memories
but I was numb.
The lock on, the love on, the Velcro of hugging skin
vanished quicker than the city lights near Hartford. 
The dawn awaits only me,
a truth lodged deep in my sore throat 
where I keep parts of you
from bobbing up at stoplights.
Returning home is only the illusion of loneliness 
because two arms never held four walls and a roof.

Our Queer Home in Space

In the doldrums of the twentieth century,
writers and artists dreamed up the impossible,
wishing for safe havens for queer and trans youth,
exchanging the epidemic of queer death for 
queer time travel, sending us to livable queer futures.

Once we cracked open the binary, 
we freed ourselves from gravity,
learned how to exist in bodies we’ve wanted since birth,
inherited knowledges from our elders to break Western epistemes
that gave us labels that could not recognize the diversity of our very existence.

Our futures were created by our elders, 
by countless generations living in the wrong story, 
writing new possibilities in their minds and diaries in the dead of night,
traveling not in a straight line, 
but folding the fabric of queer time
to find a place of refuge for our kind.


I am among the earthbound, 
never to plant a flag on another planet,
I am engrained within this 1g ecosystem
among the billions who inhabit spaceship Earth.

I am in good company,
all of humanity’s saints and sinners
lay under my feet,
covered in plants grown with the energy of Sol.

I live at a time when I have no option to leave,
no near-light speed travel, no hypersleep,
or the cold grip of the metal harness of my first off-world shuttle, 
no miraculous life-extending technology to make it across the Milky Way. 

We can’t all leave
and what awaits us requires the resources
of the lifetimes and imaginations of billions,
generations of preparation and impending tragedies.

May our children inherit the Earth,
may we continue to bathe in the Mediterranean 
while brave souls sample alien oceans on super Earths,
may we console the families of those light years away,
while herds still roam the savannahs and prairies. 

If the Earth is truly an oasis in space,
then may we the Earthbound keep it safe,
may it not merely be a hovel of misery
of the unfortunate and underprivileged, 
but an option gifted from our ancestors.

Dejando huellas

Los sabios dicen que hay lugares donde
uno se siente más en paz,
pero lo que no se dice
es que hay que buscarlos durante toda la vida. 

Pensaba que encontraría mi ecosistema perfecto 
en un pantano de Florida poblado por los caimanes
y el musgo español en el campus de la Universidad de Florida. 
Pensaba que lo encontraría en la cima de una colina al lado del mar Pacifico 
cerca de la casa de mis abuelos en la Costa Central de California
que ofrece un panorama de un mundo acuático entrevisto.

Cuando tenía veintitrés años dejé mis huellas 
en la tierra de la Península Ibérica.
Tomé un pedacito de tierra en las manos
y supe con certeza que allí pertenezco 
en un rincón de la meseta castellana. 

Mis antepasados vienen de ambos lados del Atlántico, 
de ambas historias de los colonizadores y los colonizados.
Ya no hablamos los idiomas de nuestros antepasados,
siendo yo la única hispanohablante superviviente. 

Nunca he tenido raíces fuertes 
por las docenas de historias entretejidas de mi familia,
pero en las afueras de Madrid
estando sola en San Lorenzo de El Escorial
me equilibré con la madre tierra.

No es mera curiosidad por la cultura española 
por parte de una turista,
ni tan siquiera una obsesión con el idioma.
Es más, es la intuición de un ser humano. 

Cuando veo el sol rutilante al aterrizarme 
en España, sé que allí quiero estar. 
Quiero sentir los vientos ligeros en mis brazos
y el aire seco que pasa por los ramos de los olivos
tal como lo cuentan mis poetas favoritos. 

Mis huellas se cubren con lluvias y hojas,
y me tengo que marchar a los Estados Unidos, 
pero por un momento me junto con la tierra
en un momento fugaz de conexión terrestre.

Leaving Footprints

The wise say there are places
where one feels most at peace,
but what goes unspoken
is that it is a lifelong search.

I thought that I would find my perfect ecosystem
in a Florida swamp inhabited by alligators
and Spanish moss on the campus of the University of Florida.
I thought that I would find it on top of a hill next to the Pacific Ocean
near my grandparents’ house on the Central Coast of California
that offers a panorama of a glimpsed aquatic world. 

When I was twenty-three, I left my footprints
on the solid ground of the Iberian Peninsula. 
I took a piece of earth in my hands
and I knew with all certainty that it was there where I belong,
in a corner of the Castilian Meseta. 

My ancestors come from both sides
of the Atlantic, from histories
of the colonizers and colonized alike,
with me being the only surviving fluent Spanish speaker. 

I’ve never had strong roots
given the dozens of interwoven histories of my family,
but in the outskirts of Madrid,
alone at San Lorenzo de El Escorial
I found my balance with Mother Earth. 

It wasn’t just mere curiosity for Spanish culture
as a tourist, nor was it even
an obsession with the language.
It was more, the intuition of a human being. 

When I see the bright sun upon
landing in Spain, I know it is there I want to be.
I want to feel the light breeze on my arms
and the dry air flowing through the olive trees
just as my favorite poets describe.

My footprints get covered by rain and leaves,
and I have to return to the United States,
but for a moment I join in union with the earth,
in a fleeting moment of terrestrial connection.

Angela Acosta is a bilingual Latina poet and scholar. She won the 2015 Rhina P. Espaillat Award from West Chester University and her work has or will appear in On Spec, Eye to the Telescope, Pluma, and MacroMicroCosm. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in Iberian Studies at The Ohio State University.

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