January 1, 2021

Four Poems from dormilona

By Connie Mae Concepción Oliver

Dieu réunit ceux qui s’aiment

Her mother saved her daughter my mother	 and her cousins my cousins
			daughter my mother
from drowning in 
a whirlpool 
in the Caribbean sea
by extending one of her son’s 
my mother’s brother’s		 my uncle’s crutches 
							her son’s my mother’s  brother’s		mother saved 
her daughter 
by pulling the children out 				one by one

amor eterno

Claro, quiero dedicar esta canción con mucho amor y respeto
Más que una canción es una oración de amor que quiero dedicar
como siempre
y con el mismo amor, cariño y respeto
a todas las mamás que esta noche me han venido a visitar.
Sobre todo, para aquellas que están un poquito más lejos de mi

The rainforest is older than thinking, and I think my way back to it. The melaleuca bark peels off, extinct fruits exist again, major poles and portals reopen and then close. Ambivalent underwater volcanoes arrange their porous islands. Plateaus above the canopy bear exposed amethyst fields. Long-armed frogs attach themselves to crystal trees, clouds brush the burning ponds. Nobody knows what happens in the sky. 

The word for “heaven” and “sky” is the same in many languages and there’s something about that. Since we make a distinction in English, heaven’s further occluded and extinguished from the realm of matter. In the morning my husband wakes up and I say good morning mi cielo. Blue fills the room. 

En el espacio y sobre el dormido mar

My neurofeedback technician congratulates me over the phone on the optimal functioning of my brain. I’ve been scoring points in the “deep zone” over the last two weeks. Someone on TikTok says a path to healing is to nurture the child within, to find them and give them love, if even retroactively. But then I think what about the me of last April? Searching for potting soil at Home Depot? Neither mythologized nor time-brushed. 

I think of my synapses like the shivering dial tone, the trill of sticks and hands; so many of these songs are about wanting to sing but not knowing how to. Sing as in signaling the sadness of a continent coursing through european instruments. En Cuba dicen que antes de morir yo quiero cantar mis versos del alma

I think of my synapses like the shivering family tree; my ancestors teaching their children how to fish, writing poems in the sand and then bashfully brushing them back to oblivion, eyes burning.

Cantos de Sirenas

The city of Valencia has a waterpark called Parque Dunas, where I used to go with my cousins to talk to the boys that ran the slides. They have tubing rides in chlorinated inlets throughout the park, painted palm tree fountains, and various other structures raining blue water on park goers. 

I woke up in the middle of the night, another dream about swimming. A chicken fight in the silt tinted brackish sound between the shore and a wooded island. My tios rented a small motor boat and we took turns crossing over. The wind lifted my curls and my cousin Enrique patted my head like I was a poodle. 

My Brooklyn roommates invited me to the beach. We took the Q to Coney Island, scraps of Nathan’s Famous tray paper encircled us in the air. Later, changing into a nightgown in my room, I saw a man in the window across the alley waving at me. I can still see his delirious silhouette ensconced in red brick. 

When the Italians arrived they found that the communities of the coast lived in stilt homes, which is not uncommon in the Caribbean, and is particular to the Orinoco river basin. Like the ancient Chinampas in Mexico, there were complex waterways coursing between purposeful structures, and this inspired the Italians to name the region after their fave. Little Venice, they said. In Iceland, while paying for fish & chips, the cashier asks where I am from. Mishearing, she says she’s actually been to Minnesota and that it is very nice. 

Soy el Romero Santo
Soy el Romero Santo
Y si no me necesitas
¿Para qué me nombras tanto?

I am my own mother 
and my own child
I swim to the surface

Oyeme San Juan Bautista te voy a pedir un favor 
te voy a pedir un favor
Que me aclares la garganta 
Para cantarte mejor

When the earliest land dwellers broke water
they pierced the meniscus and split the body
I swim to the surface, the drums chirrup
in the air.

Connie Mae Concepción Oliver is a poet and artist who lives in New York. her book “science fiction fiction” was published in 2020 by Spuyten Duyvil press. Please Mr. Postman, an illustrated book dedicated to her late friend the musician Kristopher Pabon, is forthcoming this year from the same press.