Ananda Lima


Ananda Lima’s work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Rattle, The Offing, PANK, Origins and elsewhere. She has an MA in Linguistics from UCLA and is pursuing her MFA in fiction at Rutgers University, Newark. She was selected for the AWP Writer to Writer program and has attended workshops at Bread Loaf, Tin House, the Community of Writers and Sewanee (where she currently works as staff). Ananda is working on a full-length poetry collection centered on immigration and motherhood. Ananda was born and grew up in Brazil and now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their son. 


My speech is a dance

its shape approaching

a lemniscate, the buzzing

mere side effect, my name

homophonous with copula

a link devoid of me

-aning, but they called me

‘Queen’ and I carry

my whole hive in my body


They called me ‘Queen’

but now in winter, I burrow alone

pregnant with grief underground

as I sit still as snow falls

outside, the cold

cuts and sucks the warm

breath out of bodies and takes it

away in the wind

outside, all my daughters

are dead


This winter

and the next spill

off onto spring

the dead drowned

in drops of melted

ice, survival isn’t

a gift, isn’t a blessing

survival is duty


Outside all my daughters

are dead, and I carry them

in my body


*Bee was written after reading about bee hibernation (in which only the queen hibernates, and the rest of the hive freezes to death) in the children’s book “Over and Under the snow” by Kate Messner (


Mother Tongue

To deal with American

dates my strategy was to tell

myself to do the opposite

of what I thought I should do

This used to work, but now

I no longer remember

what I first felt so strongly

about so I am caught

not knowing for certain

the day I was born

switching my birthday

from June to August

one of two months

when the temperature is right

the other one being July

when I was once certain

my mother was born

but now I am more sure

of its other date though

I still don’t know

if the proper way to say it

is “July 4th”

or “the 4th of July”


My son was born in September

2011 and when the nurses

in his well visits quiz me to confirm

our identity

by the declaration

of his birth

date, I always have to stop

myself from saying

“nine eleven”


My son does not in any other

way remind me of 9/11

that day sad but seen from afar

on a screen didn’t belong

to us then, the two of us, then one:

not in America, not a person

yet, neither

for those who count

as a person

a person not born

here, nor for those

who count as person

a person not born


But now we cannot escape

its imprint

the effect of the proximity

of those digits

even if out of order

or in the correct order

I can’t tell anymore


My son doesn’t know yet

how dates work

he barely understands the days

of the week, I try

to make him say them

in Portuguese like I do

with all the words

I can still remember

hoping to make gains

by attrition, but today

because I didn’t know

what to say, but still

wanted him to understand

me completely

and because I was afraid

for him speaking

anything other

than the unofficial official

language of this land

which is not my land

despite the claims

it makes in song

I gave in

and spoke to him

in my broken

version of his




*11/9 was written as a reaction to the announcement of Donald Trump’s victory in the early hours of 11/9/2016




Apply a foundation

lighter than the color of your

skin to sponge and spread

the wet paste into a line

from the tip of your nose

to your forehead

let its faint itch tingle

as it settles then

apply shade

to the sides of your nose

draw an outline out of the dark

dry powder to create the thin

illusion of a groove, then tickle

your face with the bristles

of a broad brush

the secret lies

in blending









Apply formaldehyde

to your hair and brace

for the hot iron

then run

from the rain

apply bleach

to your hair

apply bleach

to your teeth

apply bleach

to your self

apply yourself

apply to college,

apply a college/

Californian newscaster diction

to your speech, apply initials

to your name

apply cushioning

cautioning, comforting


to your grievances

the secret lies

in blending

© The Acentos Review 2017