María del Carmen Cifuentes

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A U.S. Latina of Ecuadorian descent, María del Carmen Cifuentes is an alumna of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) writer’s workshop, and her poetry has been published in Nahualliandoing Dos, La Bloga, and Calyx Journal. She currently resides in the Chicagoland area, where she works as a Spanish interpreter and translator. 

3 Poems

Muñequita de carne y hueso

                                                Para Ashley, valiente guerrera mexica (2000-2007)


Decían los mexicas que los pequeñines que se marchaban antes de tiempo, como piedritas turquesas, pasaban a adornar un paraíso de flores y frutales.
Ollín es movimiento, ollín es transformación, ollín es vida; sangre y sacrificio mantienen el equilibrio del universo al alimentar el movimiento de nuestro sol— el Sol de Ollín. (Códice Chimalpoca).

Muñequita de carne y hueso,
no te alejes de mí
Destello de luz al cielo,
vibrante llama carmín

Obsidianas cristalinas
arman cuánta travesura
Pestañitas alargadas—
piruetas a pinceladas 

Antes suave tez morena,
hoy arco iris barro y arcilla
Retoño tibio acaricias
la sombra que te persigna 

De tu ombligo a tu sonrisa,
dedo gordo al pulgarcito,
te distrae una masita
yauhtli pinta amarillo 

Bajo pliegues de tu piel,
las entrañas de otro mundo
Tiemblan grietas y planicies:
Roe un invasor maligno 

Por tus venas, un torrente:
Savia funesta que inunda
tu existencia, tenue lumbre,
tierno ocaso de tu aurora 

Irisada es la llovizna
que asidua te rocía
Reanimada, respiras
penumbra que hilvana vida

Emplumada y con escudo,
de túnica blanca, erguida
Cuerpecito luminoso
Chalchiuhtlicue bien te guía 

Corretean entre ramas,
chancletitas bien calzadas
Despejadas las cenizas,
me salpican carcajadas 

Mis abrazos, tu sosiego
tus latidos, nuestro abrigo
Manos llenas de esperanza,
vals de frágil valentía

Muñequita de carne y hueso
no te olvides de mí
Resplandece el amaranto;
maíz cuida tu jardín 

La puesta de tus turquesas
humedece el firmamento,
mas arrullada hacia el sueño
sin lágrimas te recuestas 

Profundo inspira tu ofrenda
al desperezarse, el cielo
Huesitos jade liberan
tu fogoso nacimiento

Bailarina envuelta en azul,
¡danza, danza al compás del sol!
Ensueño de vuelos de tul,
¡corona anhelos de algodón! 

Muñequita de carne y hueso
verde germinas en mí
Guerrera de dulce y fuego:
vida, fuerza, mi

My Little Doll of Flesh and Bone[1]

                                                                                                For Ashley, valiant Mexica warrior (2000-2007)

It was said by the Mexica that the little ones that passed before their time, like small turquoise stones, went on to adorn a paradise of fruits and flowers. 

Ollín is movement, ollín is transformation, ollín is life; blood and sacrifice balance the universe and feed the movement of our present sun through the skies— the Sun of Ollín.  (Codex Chimalpoca)


My little doll of flesh and bone, it’s morn, too soon to depart
Your sighs, sparkles of light to sky, trails of vibrant carmine darts 

Your eyelashes still dress my canvas in brushstroke pirouettes
Crystal twin obsidians with dimples conspire mischief 

Your complexion sifts through soils of a terra cotta rainbow
A springing sprout, your leaves caress the cross blessed by a shadow 

From your smile, round your belly button to that little cold toe
A slight shiver distracts; yauhtli blossom mists all yellow 

Beneath your wilting membrane folds, underworld entrails conceal
Through caves, past crevices, creeks: a capricious malignancy 

Luminous child, an afterthought of radiation cascades
Your shield high, feathers damp, don’t give in to the invader’s plays 

You weightless in my embrace; my faith twirls strong to set the pulse
Our hands clasped, in sanctuary— yours, a fragile, valiant waltz 

Ay, my tiny doll of flesh and bone, remember, don’t forget
Amaranth will flourish; in your garden maize will guard your rest 

Plastic slippers midst branches clatter, unnoticed huffs and heaves
Incense sleeping, cleared the ashes, drops of laughter splash on me

You lay yourself, no tears in sight; those setting eyes now turquoise
You’re lulled toward sleep by slowing drums as heavens slightly moisten 

Earth’s womb cups jade bones till ripe; a blazing birth will be released
Wide outstretched arms, the sky awakens, your offering it breathes

Rise to the rhythm of the sun, ballerina dressed in blue!
Crowning cotton puff desires, you dance above in frocks of tulle! 

Little one of flesh and bone, my heart renews to inhabit green
Sweet warrior of fire, of life; muñequita, my ollín

[1] Spanish language term of endearment.

In Memory of Brisenia Flores

                                                                                                May 30, 2009
                                                                                                Arivaca, AZ 

Upon a cushion, unaware the countdown had begun, she stirs to nudge her pup aside. Night breaks into silence as her rest gives in to a dimple’s tug; she almost smiles. Third grade textbooks have flipped their spines for summer. Pioneer projects on chipped-paint shelves will soon relinquish room to the artist. She knows not of shootouts or cowboy robbers; her dreams chase laughter on playgrounds started.

            Ten. The flicker of an added candle on her cake triggers a glow.
            Nine. A beaded earring is caught on momma’s hair.
            Eight. For Mother’s Day, she had crafted several pairs.
            Seven. Sister’s arms, handles to her wheelbarrow,
            Six, duets of shrieking marked the faster they dared,
            Five, the chill of capture now lassoes the air, 

            Four — Mommy!

On a whispered, distant call: 

                            “They’re coming back in! They’re coming back in!” 

                                                                                                as shots are heard.

Three. The bodies they thought had been left for dead.
Two. Father and child lay sharing bullets to the head.

Sudden the wing that has come, that has gone; crimson the halo that adorns
Mommy’s little one.



© The Acentos Review 2017