Lucía Orellana Damacela is an Ecuadorian-born author, translator, and educator. She has published Inherent (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020), Longevity River (Plan B Press, 2019), Sea of Rocks (Unsolicited Press 2018), and Life Lines (winner of The Bitchin’ Kitsch chapbook competition, 2018). Her work has appeared in Tin House Online, PANK, Poet Lore, Carve, The Acentos Review and other venues. She has taught at the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil and at New York University, where she completed her MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish.
Rocks don’t cry;
from the belly of the earth,
they resist rain
and accept memories.
A misplaced rock
confronted rainy afternoon,
and an altered version of myself
flipped and flew downhill,
on a sett road.
The dance of the fallen
angels, stars, coins.
Grit in the eye
gravel under skinned knee
pebble in the shoe.
The banquet of raw,
rock oysters on a bed of lemons.
Look, Fate, no hands,
says the rookie before
falling out of grace,
running out of options,
sweating the small stuff,
biting the dust.
I follow the river trail.
Floating memories of charged happiness
reachable by hand, like side road daffodils.
Then I end up by the ocean.
I can't take it whole with my sight: the tempested sea,
its swinging moods, retorting snaps
of foam, grey as liquid rock,
partisan as separate beds, as moving trucks.
I travel north to embrace the roar of a vertical offering
of fresh water, the falls around me
turning upside down what I knew about power;
not an outburst, but an unrelenting outpour
in a surrounding horizon my eyes can exult and rest on.
Almost a miracle.
My mask collection remains in my hometown
boxed in the utility room of a building
with fish-bone antennas.
The mask I now wear is pale and winterized.
The piranhas that hunt in my bloodstream
bite with fluency of familiar griefs
leaving a feeling which could be fear,
but slightly more complicated, involving grit.
Keepsakes preserved with camphor balls.
Diminutive moons. Moon is also the cold mirror
to look inside my mouth at the doctor’s office
when the lump in my throat becomes unbearable.
And the old building got a facelift and now has a satellite dish.
Sometimes my body aches
before the rain
sometimes I let
fish nibble at my feet
gorge on my dead skin
their tiny eyes look my way
like breastfeeding babies
their hunger pains gone
sometimes I let rain
swallow me whole heal me
Kids play summer night soccer in the sleepless field. Their kicks
spread bald spots on the pitch. The ball flies right into the light
path of a street lamp. Reachable moon. A jumping head sends it
back to the dark side. Breeze makes trees clap.
On a ferry, zipper slider that runs the river up and down,
fastening the riverbanks. The early moon makes the water
spark like silver silk.
Stonewashed full moon bleeds on the fresh waters. In the
morning, translucent caramel sweetens the view.
Street curls uphill. Light fluoresces windshields. Amber
trembling trees. Synchrony and a ridge. Dog barks and piano
lessons. Rain a remote whiff. Only that.
Haze from burning forest invades eyes and throats. Flames
reclaim land. The purity of fire to control fire. Smell of ancient
rites and future survivals.
There is a path from here
that goes toward a place
with hot meals and car horns
from which I have learned how to return
to these swirling versions of wholeness
I filled my bag with pebbles
not to mark the way
but to ground this moment
is a powerful yet frail time machine