— “Triste Bahia” —

Ananda Lima

  They say the first
letter of my name evolved
  from a picture of a
a cabeça de vaca
    sem as suas costelas
expostas like claws
    or jaws ancient
neighbor says not to
  let my son sleep
on my bed but I do
    know the terror
  at night we're haunted
    by my great great great
  parents dry on cracked
  soil beating in the cold
of my feet na Bahia in the
    they inhabit on my bed
  In America, I learned
    that arroyos are
  carved by the rain
    but I already knew
  night the cracked soil
    calls for me, as
  de vaca of my greats
    calling and calling
    tell them I don’t
        know you, but I





the city’s spine
  is a split bifurcation
solidified in calcium
    America they
eat the bagasse of
    oranges and say my
means bliss I am
  in love with bone white
concrete, the spine of the
sits fleshless and free
     of scales flexible bones
that can bend and bend
  keep bending and keep
bending and bending
  bending right up until they

After Nathaniel Mackey
and Caetano Veloso

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

photo of Ananda Lima

Ananda Lima is the author of Mother/land (Black Lawrence Press, 2021), winner of the Hudson Prize. She is also the author of four chapbooks: Vigil (Get Fresh Books, 2021), Tropicália (Newfound, 2021, winner of the Newfound Prose Prize), Amblyopia (Bull City Press, 2020), and Translation (Paper Nautilus, 2019). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review,, Kenyon Review Online, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, and elsewhere. She has been awarded the inaugural Work-In-Progress Fellowship by Latinx-in-Publishing, sponsored by Macmillan Publishers, for her fiction manuscript-in-progress. She has an MA in Linguistics from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from Rutgers University, Newark.

cover of Mother/Land

New York, New York

"There is so much unbridled joy and pained tenderness in Ananda Lima’s poetry. Inspired by the poet Nathaniel Mackey and the musician Caetano Veloso, her verse streams effortlessly down the page, plaiting English with Portuguese, as Lima sings of the thrills and terrors of her new life in America, the pleasures of motherhood, and what she inherited from her family. Her voice is singular and wise and fresh. I love the poems in this collection."
—Cathy Park Hong

"In Ananda Lima’s luminous debut, the cultural landscape stretches vertically, from the bustling US cities to the tropical waters of Brazil. English communes with Portuguese, shaping a language that is musical and enchanting, though not without tension. For this speaker, hard-hitting questions about homeland, nationality and citizenship persist, as does the search for home. Mother/land gives breath to the immigrant’s bittersweet songs about what is gained with migration and what is lost, what can be recovered and what will remain out of reach."
—Rigoberto González

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.