Erica Maria Litz is the author of Lightning Forest, Lava Root, her first poetry collection, to be published in the coming year by Plain View Press. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in the journals Brink Magazine, Oranges & Sardines, Superstition Review, Literary Mama, Americanisado, Moondance, The Caribbean Writer and quiet Shorts. Of Colombian heritage, her poetry has been influenced by the culture and the musical roots of Latin America. She teaches English for Paradise Valley Community College and she is a volunteer poetry mentor with PEN Prison Writing Mentorship Program.
She crosses a four-lane road,
a load of laundry
and a baby
balanced on her hips.
In socks and sandals, she's ageless,
her hair magnificent, bound loosely
to free her eyes,
to not hinder her focus.
She has one room,
and a stove
where she creates
life between arepas
and sheets. She feeds
with hands that pat
I'd like to be her walk,
to ask her
what a mother needs,
where her love bled
and how she healed him with aloe,
then agua, poquito salado.
One hand on a hip, preferring
the loose mouths of rivers,
the coupling of the semi-supernatural
gardenia to an ear.
I left the desert, had to find the burial urns along the lower Magdalena,
had to touch the birds on the handles,
had to look, see their stare,
and pick out the bones of the armadillo they guard.
My fingers remembered the roll of them,
not to crack open to marrow,
but to seed them, they are
the holy seeds of pigweed.
I sowed the bones, waited for Chuchaviva,
the Rainbow—the Patron of Those with Fevers and Women in Childbirth.
He's the sign, the covenant between Bochica and mankind. Yes, he could be
the same you're thinking of, God
not being one to limit Himself
by place or name or language.
I waited for my fever to break.
I waited for my belly to swell and drop,
waited to have a child to take to Bucaramanga.