In my recent microreview & interview of Migrare Mutare ~ Migrate Mutate (artepoética press) by Rossy Evenlin Lima, I wrote about the nuanced way the collection takes on the title’s themes and presents poems that evoke distinct variations of presence and place. This is poetry at its most direct and evocative; a lyric voice runs through the collection like lightning, illuminating the corners and depths of migration/mutation.
The poem below, “Si hay futuro (If There is a Future),” is from the “Mutate” section of the collection. Here, the speaker takes the premise of the title and imagines a future scene where she herself is referenced in the past tense as “la abuela (Grandma),” a move that implies her absence. The lyric narrative then circles around this absence, the speaker stating that in this future scene she’ll “be seated / in the cooing of the branches.” From this position of “watching over them,” the speaker goes on to “mutate,” stating that she will be “the serpent, the quetzal, / the jaguar and the axolotl” and on through a list of creatures who carry a strong significance in Mexican mythology and legend.
Presence is created in this poem via metaphor. In creating and expanding upon a hypothetical, the poem is able to create a space that acknowledges possibility. From this space, the poem then evokes the act of reading; that “these women of my futures” can “read” the speaker’s presence through her absence in the world around them mirrors what this poem houses and holds up to be read: a voice that hopes for such a future, and a hope that voices itself through poetry.
Si hay futuro – Rossy Evelin Lima
Dentro de varias décadas
estarán dos niñas observando el paisaje,
una le dirá a la otra
-de aquí salió la abuela. ¿Pero cómo pudo
irse? yo en su lugar, jamás
me hubiera marchado.
Yo estaré sentada
en el arrullo de las ramas,
les susurraré que el secreto está
en enterrar el corazón bajo un árbol
y hacer en el aire un nido.
Yo estaré cuidándolas,
las mujeres de mis futuros,
y seré la serpiente, el quetzal,
jaguar y axolotl,
seré la tortuga y el coyote
seré la mariposa.
Hoy les enseño las oraciones
con las que podran revivirme.
If There is a Future – Rossy Evelin Lima, translated by Don Cellini
In a few decades,
two little girls will observe the landscape
and one will say to the other
“Grandma left from here. How could she
leave? If I were in her place
I never would have left.”
I’ll be seated
in the cooing of the branches,
and I’ll whisper that the secret
is to bury your heart beneath a tree
and make a nest in the air.
I’ll be watching over them,
these women of my futures,
and I’ll be the serpent, the quetzal,
the jaguar and the axolotl,
I’ll be the turtle and coyote,
I’ll be the butterfly.
Today I teach them the prayers
so that they’ll have the power to bring me back.