Born in Valencia, Spain, Alicia Viguer-Espert, raised in a bilingual home of Castilian and Valencian, learned English as an adult, and began writing poetry in English in 2017. That year she was the winner of the 2017 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Book Contest with her book Holding a Hummingbird. Nominated as one of the “Top 39 LA Poets of 2017” and “10 Poets to Watch in 2018” by Spectrum Publishing, she has been a featured poet at numerous venues within the greater LA. Her work has appeared in many journals including Lummox Anthologies, Altadena Poetry Review, ZZyZx Intersections, and Spectrum Publications, as well as internationally. Her 2021 chapbook Out of the Womb of the Sea was published by Four Feather Press. She’s a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee.
The sea is there, under the rain,
a few feet from where I stand
listening to its millennia old lapping at the rocks below
mingling with light flickering rain,
the perfect lullaby for crabs and cutlet fish.
My open eyes
focus on a far-away point of light
balancing on what appears to be the horizon.
Perhaps it’s a fisherman’s boat returning
from a short voyage to the North African coast
showing off its golden beacon.
I sit on a modest local chair: pine and rope.
In this new moon’s night
with the stars’ light hidden by the constant rain,
I cannot see it, but know it’s painted blue.
leaning back, I lift my wet face, touch it,
touch the drenched chair,
my drenched clothes.
A small voice tells me to get out of the rain,
so small that it doesn’t have enough muscle to move me.
I remain sitting in the rain
in the middle of the dark night,
a glass of wine in my hand.
You should know I’m neither sick nor tired,
the only reason for not moving away from the rain
is because I do not wish to be anywhere else.
I love this smell of fresh laundered sheets, iodine, and jasmine.
The longer the rain falls,
the stronger the scent becomes.
Not even Bacchus and Aphrodite rolled together
into a single sensuous experience
can provide such a powerful high.
I can make up the Balearic Islands
in the map of my mind.
Ibiza vibrates right in front of me,
no further than fifty miles,
Formentera hugs its sister from behind.
Mallorca to the northeast,
open heart of its almond orchards exuding honey,
open gash made by the rugged mountains in the sky,
Menorca, the small shy sister
still swims toward Sardinia.
Cabrera quietly pulsates below
encircled by its fence of electric blue.
Ibiza I’ve seen from the 2,500-foot giant at my back,
El Montgó, many times,
point to the right location with closed eyes.
The marine breeze brings in the aroma
Greeks coveted thousands of years ago,
the same perfume I notice now,
a perfume rich enough to die for.
Many did when the Romans conquered.
Even with closed eyes I see
the young person at the other seashore,
in Ibiza, sitting under the rain,
looking without seeing in my direction,
surrounded by water,
soaked by rain,
an empty glass of wine in one hand,
leaning on a simple local chair painted green.
This young person gathers the island’s perfumed air
sends it to me
in a Pranayama, the oldest Zen exercise.
I inhale deeply holding it in
before sending back the scent from my shore.
This centuries old ritual,
the perfume the Llevant and Ponent winds carry over,
this burning love for the sea below,
Previously published by Statement Magazine, 2008
How to find the thread uniting everything:
Pottery, donkeys, artichokes, refugees
Who play the violin, are doctors, or poets,
Feel pain on dry land and underwater?
I watched them pushed by a hot Sirocco, *
A maritime caravan without fixed destination
Searching the direction of the wind, the coast,
Nursing thirsty children on the lap of the sea.
They resemble the ancient drama held in Ithaca.
War drives men away from home, darkens wives
Eyelids, until the champion returns exhausted,
His archery skills miraculously untouched after
Twenty years of fighting political enemies. Hungry
For his Penelope, he squints at the sky for signs
Of Athena’s protection or any new god
Influential enough to save all Telemachus.
Like yesterday, for some, memories hang
Abandoned on olive tree branches, burned houses,
A headless doll by the sill. Still, thick strokes of blue
Painting the horizon, and its fishermen’s boats,
Persist in my mind as my every day companions,
My life-line. Tuna, fished for centuries mindfully,
Are now butchered for the benefit of plutocracy
Dressed on the outfit of Japanese palates.
You have the eyes of a shaman, she said,
Reading an uncertain future on my palm,
Glancing at invisible sunken ships, oars
Disintegrated, amphoras still holding Garum *
From Málaga, the favorite of the Republic.
She disappeared under fistfuls of tight stars,
In a patera * filled with two hundred souls
And a lamenting oud. * Still, laughter,
The best medicine, echoes across waves.
Little has changed, same alluring beaches
Beneath Icarus view, more drowned descents,
Same seizing of exiles, the new gladiators.
Similar feet border the coast collecting
Goose barnacles, treasures to eat or sell,
Wares sing out loud in ancient tongues.
Still, I yearn to see Ibiza from the Montgó, *
Climb Ÿabal al-Tãrik * to salute African brothers.
I walk to the shore which brought me my first
Two languages, to remember who I am,
At what ceremony I got my scales, the brown eyes
Same to a woman who kissed my cheeks in Ephesus,
Hair equal to sea-urchins hidden underneath rocks,
Skin octopus-soft, like the one curled around my leg
When I was ten, its tentacles a million suction cups
Each one as afraid as I was.
From Algeciras to Istanbul lives nurtured by the same
Liquid color dance to music from a guitar called “home.”
It’s not just history, but the Temple where we received
The Meter to measure the purity of light, from the density
Of honey to the unpolluted transparency of cellophane,
The thousand shades of this ethereal pigment, this gift
Of presence always changing ever vibrant, this sea
Which reveals my people in the images woven with these threads.
Sirocco: African wind which blows through Europe.
Garum: Fish sauce favored by ancient Romans.
Patera: Flat boat for hunting ducks, used by migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.
Oud: Arabic string musical instrument, precursor of the lute.
Montgó: Mountain by the sea in Denia, (Greek Hemoroskopium) from where one can see Ibiza.
Ÿabal al-Tãrik: Gibraltar, Mountain of Tãrik in Arabic = the general leading the conquest of Spain on 711.
Shades of Light
The unrestrained light of August,
eraser of contours,
iron of imperfections
In its blinding luminosity
fire from Summer heat
flattens the body’s clefts.
Splendor attracts desire,
in a rush kisses burn fast
fragrant with new apples.
Behind olive trees,
made of dust and silver,
shadows enter the eye
as the sun arch lowers into the sea.
I’ve been waiting
for these ripe grapes,
these crowned pomegranates,
announcements from dry leaves ready to dance
with Cezanne’s Quince, Apples and Pears’ colors.
like I do,
to nuances of red wine,
the hint of your eyelashes on my cheek,
slow growing roses enduring perfume,
promises of an intimate conversation
tasting your lingering kisses,
in that honey light.
Our Father in Heavens
He whispered his plan before disappearing
Under whipped cream-colored waves,
A cloud of blue following him
As he swam towards Majorca.
Wrapped in colorful towels, we worried,
“What if an Orca, dolphins surfacing for air
Do not recognize our father,
Dispenser of our daily bread, gelato,
Forgiveness for our trespasses.”
Watched his image centered in binoculars,
Sharp elbows rose and sank like masts
Before vanishing in mysterious waters.
When he returned, eyes seaweed green,
Enigmatic deep-sea creatures leaned
From the balcony of his eyelashes,
Salt crystals transmuted into laughter
At Circe, having escaped her charms.
We admired his arms crusty with minerals,
Tiny shell shards from Palma, algae, iodine.
A playful Neptune who only lifted his trident
To spear fish for members of his oceanic family.
Mycenaeans, Minoans, Phoenicians, Greeks,
Romans, he included every invader in his DNA,
Every traveler who sank into the liquid blue bottom.
Favored seafood but feasted on pomegranates,
Green olives, figs, paella, oranges to share.
A master swimmer, he was our God until
he left us to visit one brother in Heaven, or
the other one in Hades, we are not sure.
Poetry in this post: © Alicia Viguer-Espert
Published with the permission of Alicia Viguer-Espert