Christina Watkins’ book of short metaphysical poems might remind readers of nimble, compressed forms such as haiku. True to its title, Sky and Earth, Cielo y Tierra takes readers on a journey that is grounded in the earthly but offers flashes of the sublime and the transcendent.
In keeping with the bilingual title, the poems are in English on the left-hand pages and in Spanish on the facing pages. This makes for an unhurried progression from poem to poem, with stops to appreciate the beauty of the Spanish and the alchemical art of translation.
Any reader can get a sense of the music of the lines in Spanish and how they offer a rhythm different from the more compressed English sounds and syntax. In the poem “Towards Phoenix,” the last stanza personifies the sky and the earth in three lines: “You may see sky’s starry cover as / brown earth’s night-dressed lover. / You may learn to love the west.” Here, “cover” and “lover” make a perfect rhyme, and “west” makes an interesting slant rhyme with the last word of the previous stanza, “largeness.” The Spanish translation requires five lines to express what took three in English, exemplified in the contrast between the taut “starry cover” and the soft waves of the Spanish: “sembrado de estrellas.”
Another poem, “Spaces,” is brief but captures much of what is charming about this collection, with its easy blend of the embodied and the ecstatic: “Sometimes when I am dancing / I realize there are spaces beneath my shoes / sometimes pink, sometimes blue / sometimes yellow or green spaces. / This happens when I have forgotten / there is a floor.”
Sky and Earth, Cielo y Tierra is a graceful collection that may appeal to readers with an appreciation for the rugged openness of the American West, the Spanish language and the sacred feminine.
Also available as an ebook.