Editors’ Choice: 2022 Sandy Crimmins Poetry Contest
In 1879 Presidente Garcia Moreno
brought silver dollar eucalyptus trees
to dig their heels into these hills
to keep things from sliding further.
In the foothills of the Andes,
in a hush of eucalyptus
gnarled and knuckled bark
beckons me— lie down
on pillows of hojarasca.
Forest floor soaks up noise,
sponge of days.
Streaks of sunlight anoint
this stained-glass cathedral.
Here you can inhale deeper
than you’ve ever breathed.
My Abuelita, when her name was Deifilia
bundled eucalyptus branches on her way home,
hung their bouquets upside-down
until the cordillera rains would bring el resfrio.
In Guayaquil, when her name was Marianita,
when traditions were all she had left,
eucalyptus and manzanilla hung in her kitchen,
bought from las indias en el Mercado Sur.
Camouflaged in dark green leaves,
she shape-shifted into tropical hibiscus,
caged-bird-of-paradise pressed between
spiral bound pages. The crinkle of Scripture,
fragrance of Vicks VapoRub, her weekly rituals
the sacred aroma that permeates everything.
The first time, I traveled there
in my father’s Volkswagen camper
the patina on the leaves
reminded me of greenbacks,
copper pennies, the Statue of Liberty.
I wanted to be a forest ranger,
so I could spend all day
in that temple, branches lifted in praise—
lifted to hold back the sky.
I too have been uprooted
brought thousands of miles, expected
to thrive in foreign soil.
Decades later, I learn
eucalyptus trees suck all the water
from Andean aquifers.
My conscience pangs.
My roots are still thirsting.
Now, I still get congested, return
to lush Andean forests, my grandmother’s home
release the trees into the air above my mug
Una aguita de eucalipto, mijita
I sip in the now, and breathe—
my ribcage the open and closed lung
of a blessed forest’s unleaving.
Lupita Eyde-Tucker writes and translates poetry in English and Spanish. She’s the winner of the 2021 Unbound Emerging Poet Prize, and her poems have recently appeared in Women’s Voices for Change, Yemassee, Rattle, [PANK], and Ran Off With the Star Bassoon. Lupita is an MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Florida and was a Staff Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers Conferences this summer. She is a Poet in Residence at Miami-Dade Public Schools through O, Miami’s Sunroom program. Read more of her poems here: www.NotEnoughPoetry.com.