"Para Mis Chiquistris" for me is a soft and gentle poem. I was drawn in while reading it, seeing the poet's plea to their loved companions to both remember who they are and celebrate their past as a gift, while also asking for a future time, a future remembrance. As Alvarado reaches in two directions, they create a sustained balance between life and death. The moment in-between creates, and holds, the poetry.
Para Mis Chiquistriquis
By Moncho Alvarado
For B and N
So much your eyes don’t see: oxygen
breathed in by dinosaurs & Australopithecus,
flowers who have eaten more sun than we’ll ever do,
also, pick up a papaya, cut it in half, let seeds spill, juices run,
bite into the sunset of its body, taste the horizon,
& once a year, outline your hands on a piece of paper,
in ten years you’ll see how hands can grow like trees,
& don’t forget to sing the songs of your abuelitos,
like this one, amor eterno, e inolvidable, tarde
o temprano estare contigo, para seguir, amándos.
On this day your bodies are a testimonial like spiral sea shells,
your names an inheritance like the palms your parents gifted you,
but promise me, mis chicis tricis, mi queridxs, mis estrellas,
when I’m no longer here, read me a poem on my birthday,
so my bones can feel again.
Reprinted with permission
The poet had this to say about their work:
I’ve been writing a lot of poems about family and I followed a prompt about writing a letter to your future ancestors. In this case, I wrote a birthday card to my niece and nephew. This was also written around the passing of my Tío Kiko, who was deeply loved by all the family. I was thinking about bonds, lineages, harvests, lessons that are passed from ancestor to ancestor, and what I want to pass down to the next generation.
Moncho Alvarado (they, them) is a Latinx-queer-poet, translator, visual artist, and educator whose work has appeared in Poets.org and other publications. They have received fellowships and residencies from The Helen Wurlitzer Foundation, Lambda Literary, Poets House, Troika House, the Summer Seminar at Sarah Lawrence College, and they won the Academy of American Poet’s John B. Santoianni award for excellence in poetry. Find them at monchoalvarado.com.