María José Giménez’s “a flor de piel (blooming on my skin)” & Kim Baker’s “Let Grief Come”

a flor de piel (blooming on my skin)

by María José Giménez

blooming on my skin
bloodied fields
of unbloomed children
blooming on my skin
wilted traintracks
of weeping elders
blooming on my skin
tu país, mi país
blooming on my skin
a nation built
by blistered hands
blooming on my skin
a rageflooded map
blooming on my skin
1 in 2 young men 1 in 2
blooming on my skin
49 glitter flowers
blooming on my skin
53 shattered lives
blooming on my skin
almost 600 counted by July
blooming on my skin
the fallen the yet-to-fall
blooming on my skin
dead weight unlifted
blooming on my skin
the burden of blame
on everyone’s shoulders
blooming on my skin
the burden of beauty
blooming on my skin
melaza que ríe
melaza que llora

blooming on my skin
the violence of silence
blooming on my skin
chain gangs of names
yet to be said
blooming on my skin
sorrow songs
yet to be sung

Lines in italics from Tite Curet Alonso’s song “Las caras lindas”

Previously published in Vallum Magazine (Issue 14:1 “Evolution,” 2016)

Writing Prompt: 
Locate an event that has marked you and which would be impossible to describe in words. Think of a word or phrase in your mother tongue that you consider untranslatable. Set a timer and write for 10 minutes, without stopping, beginning each line, stanza, or sentence with that word or phrase. Using this constraint and freewriting practice helped me write about the Orlando nightclub shooting. This was the first poem in my “translation or prayer” series.

Let Grief Come

by Kim Baker

With gratitude to Jane Kenyon
Let the dark of winter afternoon
exhale from organ and pews, wrap family
in sadness as visitors thin.
Let fog envelope the window
as the widow clears her chair of the cat
and his hat. Let grief come.
Let dust settle on the table, maple
and coffee stained. Let spiders spin
and mice nibble at crumbs. 
Let the owl wail in the tree.
Let rain pick at the pane. Let the house
sigh inside.  Let grief come.
To one cup in the sink, to the sweater empty
in the dresser, to tears tearing cheeks,
let grief come to wash you clean.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. There is no way but
through, so let grief come.
Previously anthologized in LOON MAGIC and Other Night Sounds (Outrider Press, Inc., October 2019).

Writing Prompt:
The hard work of hope is knitted with every stitch of everyday living. Describe a simple scene of your surroundings, whether beautiful or chaotic, simple or pain-filled. And let one or more of the images of that every day shine with a teaspoon or ocean of hope. 

María José Giménez

María José Giménez is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has received support from the NEA, the Studios at MASS MoCA, the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference, Canada Council for the Arts, and Banff International Literary Translators’ Centre. Among other awards, María José has been named 2019–2021 Poet Laureate of Easthampton, Massachusetts. Learn more at

Kim Baker

When she isn’t writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim Baker works to end hunger and violence against women. A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal currently on hiatus that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks. Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence: Musings about Poems and Paintings, is available from Finishing Line Press.