Tuesday, March 1, 2016

#195: "Aqui" by Li Yun Alvarado

~This poem first appeared in PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Literary Art (2008).


En esta vida falta          espacio
para tanto amar.

Chillidos, murmullos,
acero contra acero.

Estos latidos, el tren.
Y soñar es vivir

y dormir es soñar
y aquí, aquí mi niño,

dum dum dum

este corazón.


This life lacks         space
for so much love.

Screeches, whispers,
steel against steel,

these heartbeats, the train.
And to dream is to live

and to sleep is to dream
and here, here, my child,

thump thump thump

this heart.



“Aquí” is one of my first poems accepted for publication, and I am eternally grateful to PALABRA for giving my work a wider audience so early in my writing career. After it was published, I translated “Aquí” into the poem “Here” and was pleased with the result: an English version that evokes similar moods as the Spanish original. At the time I wrote “Aquí,” my best friend was pregnant and asked me to be her first child’s madrina or godmother. We were already very close, but inviting me to play this role in her son’s life deepened our friendship and ushered in the beginning of a new relationship; I was now her and her husband’s comadre or co-mother. Her son was my first godchild and throughout her pregnancy I found myself more aware of other women around me who were also expecting. I wrote a first draft of “Aquí” on the subway in New York after seeing a stranger holding her pregnant belly while waiting for the train. What struck me most about her was how serene she seemed, especially in relation to the other commuters bustling up and down the platform. Although the initial spark of the poem came that day on the subway, my best friend’s pregnancy and our shared reverence for the everyday wonders that she experienced while carrying her first child guided my revision.
Li Yun Alvarado is the author of the chapbook Nuyorico, CA and her work has been published in several journals and anthologies including: Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education; CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action; Kweli; The Acentos Review; PALABRA, A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art; and Modern Haiku. She is an Acentos Fellow, and an alumna of AROHO, Astra Writing in Greece, and VONA. She holds a PhD in English from Fordham University, where she helped coordinate Fordham's Poets Out Loud reading series and book prize as a graduate student. She currently teaches English at Long Beach City College (CA) and has taught English and creative writing throughout the country and in the Caribbean. She is a native New Yorker living with her husband in Long Beach, California who takes frequent trips to Salinas, Puerto Rico to visit la familia. To learn more, visit www.liyunalvarado.com

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous in its simplicity - in both languages, the music sings.


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