Tag Archives: Beatriz F. Fernandez

Beatriz F. Fernandez

Genesis, 1880

On March 31, 1880, Wabash, Indiana became the first electrically lit city in the world.

 

Over to Wabash from Anderson we come

to witness the night to end all nights.

The courthouse tower bell strikes eight—

and over the sound of the band playing,

a buzz as if from a blizzard of bees rises

in the evening air—the breeze crackles

and night bursts into a strange new day.

 

Fierce pride dawns, but fear beckons

as grown men moan down to their knees

and lovers flee to newly shrunken shadows.

 

Like a cornered fox whose secret lair’s

sniffed out by hounds, my eyes ricochet

from one sharp angle to another

of this unfamiliar luminous cage.

I break and run—far from the false suns’ glare

down to the river,  only to find

that traitorous serpentine band

capturing traces of the ensorcelled light.

 

In my girlhood days, before the soil began to erode,

that river glowed like molten silver in sunlight—

the Miami people named it Wah-bah-shik-ki, or “white”

and fought our fathers for the riches of its pure bright waters.

 

Some measure of peace returns as I watch its endless flow—

a hundred years from now, others will come to these banks

for the comfort only a river can bestow, and I know

they will praise us for giving chase to the dark forever.

 

And someday, because of tonight,

folk like us will venture between the stars

where only darkness speaks,

their frail, persistent faces shining like beacons

in the sharper shadows cast by alien suns.

 

 

The Lost Colony

Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in the Roanoke colony.

 

Lost before I was weaned,

my fate a mystery before I was grown,

I was christened Virginia—

a new name for a child born in a world

new to our blood.

 

Salt sang in my veins,

the motion of the ocean

pulsed in my infant heart,

the August sun of a green world

met my newly opened eyes,

and already in my flute-like throat

a softer accent was being tuned

by this sand, these trees, this wind.

 

From fretful dreams in my carved cradle

I woke to sounds of battle behind flimsy palisade walls.

Bloodtides sprang, receded, but never died,

I tell you, my kind survived.

 

Spread like fire my blood rooted a forest,

birthed a mystery deeper

than any of us could have dreamed—

 

Grandfather, after three years of desperate waiting

you came back for us

to find only a muddy footprint,

one torn word gashed in wood: Croatoan,

code for salvation or accusation,

no way to know, no trail to follow.

 

Search for me no more, my mother’s father,

for I linger here, in the rock beneath the captive soil,

in the mandrake root twisted at the foot of the oak,

in the gaze of the green forest,

the eyes that blink at you through the coming night.

 

 

Maid Joan’s Gethsemane

I never questioned the summoning

when the saints came to me

in my father’s garden—

why else would the good Lord

give me, a maid, this soul

forged in shape of a sword?

 

When I was a girl in Domrémy

dancing around the midsummer’s bonfire,

I once saw a spiderweb catch a spark,

silken threads shriveling in the flames,

the spider paying out her escape line,

but in the end trapped in her own fiery lair—

Something stayed my hand from rescue then,

it seemed a thing meant—

the spark sent, perhaps by You.

 

My God, my country, my king—

to me they were all one thing.

For their sake, I abandoned

my childhood home and hearth

for the fickle shelter of army banners

and took up a standard crowned

with golden angel wings.

 

At the stake, when I looked upon

Your nailed hands curled on the cross,

all I could see were my mother’s pale fingers

at her spinning wheel—churned flax

transfigured into fine linen floss

twisted onto a spindle,

which to my child’s gaze

spun on and on without end.

 

I will never again don a daughter’s gown—

in its stead, a martyr’s skirt of flames

brands my face on the fabric of heaven

forever, and from this night on,

whenever my name is spoken,

the stars will taste of my ashes.

______________________________________________________________

Beatriz F. Fernandez is the author of Shining from a Different Firmament (Finishing Line Press, 2015) which she presented at the Miami Book Fair International last year. She’s a former grand prize winner of the Writer’s Digest Poetry Award and has read her poetry on WLRN, South Florida’s NPR news station. Her poems have appeared in Boston Literary MagazineFalling Star Magazine (2014 Pushcart Nomination), Minerva RisingVerse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest, among many others. Contact her at www.beasbooks.blogspot.com or @nebula61.

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