Christina Olivares   


three poems (2008). replaced July 2020.

The poems I submitted here to Acentos twelve years ago hover and thrum beneath this new language. Re-reading them in this space for the last time as I write to you, reader, I note how thoroughly persistent my artistic preoccupations are: land, body, identity, home, naming. I trace the tree ring of 2008 and am surprised by how intact it is. Its Christina--and this, her first publication--is tender and brave.

What shifts is my boundary between what I choose to offer publicly and what I choose to hold privately. The boundary is instinctive and mutable in the way a shoreline is mutable. I'm learning to trust the source that offers the instinct. When I listen, I find I want the shells and living bodies of these poems--glorious, whole, intricate, vulnerable--to be hurled back into the sea. I want them in a darker, richer home, closer to or within the animal of my own body, which perhaps I imagine in this instance to be that sea. Attuning oneself to and then honoring one's boundaries--bodied as queer, as female, as of color--is a radical act in this or any America.

When I asked for them to be taken down, I imagined a 404. A slide into disappearance, not noted or marked. But instead, here's something new. A statement, a replacement. A palimpsest? An exploration.

Eliel Lucero called me one evening over a decade ago to solicit some poems for the Acentos Review. I'd just finished sparring and it was late and pouring rain so I ducked into a lonely, brightly-lit cafe. Glowing with endorphins, I listened to him and felt my heart burst open. That joy--the joy of first-offered publication, and in a place of consequence, as Acentos was and is to me--is altering. It is everything. I heard in his voice that I had choices, that the work I made could be seen if I chose for it to be seen. That I could be seen if I chose to be seen. That the offer for visibility was a choice I could say yes, or no, to.

I sent him the most truthful, real, humane poems I could make. They lived here, free and public, for twelve years.

Christina Olivares is a poet. She is currently a student in Brooklyn College's MFA program. Mermaid.