What the scale tells you is how much the earth
has missed you, body, how it wants you back
again after you leave it to go forth
into the light. Do you remember how
earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock
you in their arms, warm in the flow
that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began
to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick
at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin,
and finally to stoke you, body, drumming
intimate coded messages through music
you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming
and your poems and your obedient blood.
Body, how useful you became, how lucky,
heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad,
sometimes, imagining that greedy zero
you must have been, that promising empty sack
of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow.
But look at you now, body, soft old shoe
that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look
how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know.
Rhina P. Espaillat has published ten full-length books and three chapbooks, comprising poetry, essays and short stories, in both English and her native Spanish, and translations from and into Spanish. Her work appears in numerous journals, over seventy anthologies, and dozens of websites, and has earned national and international awards, including the T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Prize, the May Sarton Award, the Robert Frost “Tree at My Window” Prize for translation, several honors from the New England Poetry Club, the Poetry Society of America, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College. Espaillat’s most recent publications are two poetry collections in English titled Playing at Stillness and Her Place in These Designs, both available from their publisher, Truman State University Press, http://tsup.truman.edu. Espaillat has also published a book of Spanish translations titled Oscura fruta/Dark Berries: Forty-two Poems by Richard Wilbur, and a book of Spanish translations titled Algo hay que no es amigo de los muros/ Something There Is that Doesn’t Love a Wall: Forty Poems by Robert Frost, both available from Amazon.com. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop leader, and is active with the Powow River Poets, a notable group she co-founded in 1992. "Weighing In" was first published in Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press).
“Because We Come from Everything: Poetry & Migration” is the first public offering of the newly formed Poetry Coalition—twenty-two organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and communities, as well as the important contributions poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Coalition member Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies has partnered with the Best American Poetry blog to present ten poems in March that engage with this year’s theme, which borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.” The poems in this project were curated by Francisco Aragón & Emma Trelles.