Poem in Which I Dream of Orishas
Amy Alvarez

My great-grandmother hid them behind
the saints, like so many others before her.
Her husband smashed her altars, but she
still found a way to perform ceremonies
in the womb of night—a chicken offered
as sacrifice to protect a sick child, a song
to Elegua, god of the crossroads, to make
a way where there seemed to be none.
Last night, she sent me a dream of Elegua
dancing by the sea. Dressed in white, wearing
a straw hat, he reflected the sun back to itself.
He was mortal—a lump of clay like the rest of us—
picking up cowrie shells by night, fishing by day
dancing–always listening for the hum of Yemaya
in the tide. Elegua danced in my dreams to the beat
equivocating drums reminding me that we are all
sainted sinner, the lost found, —takers—, giving at whim.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Amy Alvarez moved to Boston, Massachussetts ten years ago for love (and cheap rent). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at USM and currently teaches at Boston Day and Evening Academy.

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