María Fernanda


María Fernanda is an early-career poet whose poems and translations appear in The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext, The Wide Shore, Kweli Journal, and elsewhere. Featuring at The Brooklyn Museum, The Ecuadorian American Cultural Center, The Phoenix Art Museum, and more, María Fernanda has received fellowships from Callaloo Writers Workshop, CantoMundo, and VONA/Voices of Our Nation. María Fernanda is a Black Ecuadorian American and an adoptee with a cultural background branching to Louisiana, Texas, and (a native of) Washington D.C. @mariafernanda________

"I celebrate with great love my Ecuadorian Blackness and the intricacies of Blackness throughout the diaspora. Works by Nikky Finney, Aracelis Girmay, Robin Coste Lewis, Aimé Césaire, and more reflect for me that neither my work nor myself is constricted to a single language." —María Fernanda

Two Birthdays

For Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

Sweat roves

Liseth's burnt cheek

like a vagrant.


Her passenger view brims

of sky.


Even if in pieces,

mi hijita, there

is pleasure in returning

to the earth, you

came from.


Her mother’s words stress

Liseth’s hands, closed,

the way grown hands


are buried or burned.

Close to the sun,

the gravel-packed road lies,


hot enough to fry

eggs on, rick

grass stems together


for sitting, and eat,

if there are chickens.


The road sepulchres

her family’s blood

over and over

and now, too.


A rollover crash—as if foaling,

Liseth’s bus lands.

Glass scatters—flesh,

crushed seats, and vinyl


wedge under Liseth’s

fingernails. She grips

the bus floor for friction.


Her breath leaves, kithless.


Wild morning glow, flexuous

in her eyelashes, opens

the apricot void. Her eyes close.


The medics click

their hand lights.

Liseth’s eyes rise,


no different from two kites,

unscathed after a storm.


Medics lift, from Liseth,

her daughters’ twin

bodies, each of a dark



The nearby, local

newspaper snaps

photos of the crashed

bus and the frayed

clothes, waving.


No record of Liseth

—her wrists, beating,


strain the stretcher’s strap

as she calls for her babies.

© The Acentos Review 2020