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Joy and Hope and All That: A Tribute to Lucille Clifton

“si el mar se rompiera”

para lucille clifton en su cumpleaños

 

“if the chains should break
and crash against the decks
and below decks break the sides
of the sea
or
if the seas of cities
should crash against each other
and break the chains”

“if something should happen,” lucille clifton

 

porque algo debería darse
y se dará,
si se rompiera el mar de tristeza—
“ese cartón mojado que gime contra el muro”1—;
si pegara a llorar espuma;
si el muro fuese el morro
y las olas se hicieran trizas,
recordando cuando eran gota—
“mujer, bolsa marrón y mojada”2—;
si yemayá se quitara de encima
la gran frontera,
sin ser más cementerio de yolas o
internado para tiburones;

si la ley jones de repente
diera contra los barcos llenos de bienes
y violencias; si se personificaran
las personas; si se mojara la madera—
cartón contra sal—
y las cadenas fuese periódico de ayer—;
si todas las criaturas que el mar cría—
los huracanes, los cocos perdidos,
los aguavivas, los piratas,
la niña, la pinta y el cabrón de colón,—
se hundieran en su carne,
sin tratados ni embustes,
materia nueva;

si en un gran imaginario llamado océano
tuviéramos la finura de enterrar el presidente,
el gobernador, la junta
y en vez de entrar— rompiendo diques,
inundado comunidades—,
“si los mares de la ciudades
estallaran los unos contra los otros
y rompieran las cadenas”;
si se parará nuestra agua—
caballo encabritado
que no encuentra río—
“nadie muerto
todos muriéndose,”3
atropellara los guardias—
muchos muertos,
muchos muriéndose
y cerrara los campos de concentración;

si le diera balas de maíz a las gallinas,
rellenara techos con chalecos,
tumbara el bosque de la cárcel federal,
reemplazándolo con lozas antiguas
en una fenomenolimpia;

si acaso nuestros cuerpos,
“abriéndose en hermanos”4,
se llenaran de otros cuerpos de agua,
“casados a la piedra y el mar”5;
si estar roto fuese
preludio al nuevo mundo;
si las islas fuesen
lloriqueo petrificado;
tatuaje terrestre
de alguna diosa traicionada;
si el marhuevo se quebrara;
si el marhueso se fracturara;
si el marvena sangrara sobre la tierra;
si el marboca nos hablara;
diría tu nombre, lucille,
dirá tus nombres
lucille
lucille
lucille
lucille
si tu nombre se rompiera lucille
lucille
lucille
clifton.

  

1“Mi tristeza, ese cartón mojado que gime contra el muro,” Marigloria Palma, “Confesión de lo obsceno.”
2“wet brown bag of a woman,” Lucille Clifton, “miss rosie.”
3“war over/ everybody gone home/ nobody dead/ everybody dying,” Lucile Clifton, “buffalo war.”
4“my body opens/ into brothers,” Lucille Clifton, “adam and eve.”
5“the bodies broken on/ the trail of tears/ and the bodies melted/ in the middle passage/ are married to rock and/ ocean by now,” Lucille Clifton, “Untitled.”

“if the sea should break”

for lucille clifton on her birthday

 

“if the chains should break
and crash against the decks
and below decks break the sides
of the sea
or
if the seas of cities
should crash against each other
and break the chains”

“if something should happen,” lucille clifton

 

because something should happen
and will give itself over to happening,
if the sea should break from sadness—
“that wet cardboard that moans against the wall”6—;
if it started crying foam;
if the wall was el morro
and the waves were shredded,
recalling themselves as drop—
“wet brown bag of a woman,”7—;
if yemayá threw off
the great border,
no longer yola cemetery or
internship for sharks;

if the jones act suddenly
crashed against ships full of goods
and violences; if people
were personified; if wood got wet—
cardboard against salt—
and chains were yesterday’s paper—;
if all the creatures the sea raised—
hurricanes, lost coconuts,
jellyfish, pirates,
la niña, la pinta, and fucking columbus,—
sunk into their meat,
without treaties or lies,
new matter;

if in the great imaginary called ocean,
we had manners enough to bury the president,
the governor, the fiscal control board,
and instead of entering—breaking dams,
flooding communities—,
“if the seas of cities
should crash against each other
and break the chains”;
if our water stood up—
riled horse
that finds no river—
“nobody dead
everybody dying,”8
would run over the cops—,
many dead,
many dying
and close down the concentration camps;

if they gave cornbullets to chickens,
patched roofs with vests,
knocked down that forest: the federal prison,
replacing it with ancient tiles
in a phenomenalimpia;

if perhaps our bodies,
“opening into brothers”9,
would be filled by other bodies of water;
“married to rock and ocean”10;
if being broken were
prelude to the new world;
if islands were
a petrified cryfest;
a terrestrial tattoo
of some betrayed goddess;
if the seaegg cracked;
if the seabone fractured;
if the seavein bled over the earth;
if the seamouth spoke to us;
it would say your name, lucille,
it would say your names
lucille
lucille
lucille
lucille
if your name should break lucille
lucille
lucille
clifton.

6“Mi tristeza, ese cartón mojado que gime contra el muro,” Marigloria Palma, “Confesión de lo obsceno.”
7“wet brown bag of a woman,” Lucille Clifton, “miss rosie.”
8“war over/ everybody gone home/ nobody dead/ everybody dying,” Lucile Clifton, “buffalo war.”
9“my body opens/ into brothers,” Lucille Clifton, “adam and eve.”
10“the bodies broken on/ the trail of tears/ and the bodies melted/ in the middle passage/ are married to rock and/ ocean by now,” Lucille Clifton, “Untitled.”


 



Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets ...

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