Margarita Engle

They drift like petals
down to the surface of earth,
no longer the surface now,
as layers press from above.
Each step carries us over hidden
cities and seas, forests of tree fern,
fangs of sabertooth tiger.
Someday shoes, claws, or hooves
will pass above our memories,
echoes like the sonar of dolphins
reaching our ashes, our dust.
Waves of living breath
will sift down through layered
petals, a sinuous trail
of air or water leading the way
as roots of prairie or sea plants
absorb our minerals,
lifting us back to the surface,
where we can feel the weight
of our own souls,
layered like petals, rising.

By: Margarita Engle


Margarita Engle is a botanist and the Cuban-American author of several books about the island, most recently The Poet Slave of Cuba, a Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt & Co., April, 2006).  Short works appear in a wide variety of anthologies and journals, including Atlanta Review, Bilingual Review, California Quarterly, Caribbean Writer, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and Nimrod.  Awards include a Cintas Fellowship, a San Diego Book Award, and a 2005 Willow Review Poetry Award.  Margarita lives in California, where she enjoys hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and helping her husband with his volunteer work for a wilderness search-and-rescue dog training program.