Recorded by María Luisa Arroyo, September 15, 2016.

About this poet

María Luisa Arroyo was born in Manati, Puerto Rico, and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received a BA from Colby College, an MA from Tufts University, and an MFA from Pine Manor College. She is the author of Gathering Words/Recogiendo palabras (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2008). In 2014, Arroyo was named the inaugural poet laureate of Springfield, Massachusetts. She has also received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and New England Public Radio’s Arts & Humanities Award. She lives in Springfield, Massachusetts.

gathering words

                            para mami

One day I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
I have heard
pop! pop! pop!
like little soap bubbles escaping
the animated mouths
of the women who share
pieces of gossip like bombones
in la lavandería every Sunday

One day I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
that blossom without thorns
in painted mouths, in someone else’s countries…
In my corner, I listen to how voices ring
without the sting of bofetadas
and how they undulate above
gushing water and swirling clothes
in machines that vibrate in la lavandería

One day, I will write you a letter
after I have gathered enough words
and enough courage
to let them ring in my mute dreams
until they sing to me: Write us. Así.
In your childhood tongue. Recóbranos. Recover us.
At that time, I will be able to return without fear
to la lavandería with my bags of clothes
and enough words and surrender myself to the bubbles.


recogiendo palabras

                        para mami

una carta te escribiré
después de que he recogido
bastantes palabras que he oído escapar
¡pum! ¡pum! ¡pum!
como burbujitas de jabón
que escapan de las bocas animadas
de las mujeres quienes reparten
bochinches como bombones
en la lavandería cada domingo

una carta de escribiré
después de que he recogido
bastantes palabras que florecen sin espinas
en bocas pintadas, en tierras ajenas…
en mi esquina oigo como las voces suenan
sin la quemada de bofetadas
y como ondean sobre chorros de agua
y ropa arremolinándose
en las máquinas que bailan en la lavandería

una carta te escribiré
después de que he recogido
bastantes palabras y bastante coraje
para dejarlas resonar en mis sueños mudos
hasta que me canten: escríbenos así
en la lengua de tu niñez recóbranos
y en ese momento podré regresar sin miedo
a la lavandería con mis bolsas de ropa
y palabras que bastarán y me entregaré a las burbujitas

From gathering words / recogiendo palabras. Copyright © 2008, Bilingual Press / Editorial Bilingüe, Arizona State University.

From gathering words / recogiendo palabras. Copyright © 2008, Bilingual Press / Editorial Bilingüe, Arizona State University.

María Luisa Arroyo

María Luisa Arroyo is the author of Gathering Words/Recogiendo palabras (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2008). She lives in Springfield, Massachusetts.

by this poet

poem

            for Lucie Brock-Broido

I find it
in the cupboard
above the stove

it sits behind
the gluey
jug of syrup

it hides behind
the yogurt container
of congealed lard

the apple welded
to the saucer

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