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ISBN: 978-1-62557-803-7
Reviews & Media Interview in THE RUMPUS
Categories Poetry

Love Letter to an Afterlife

Publication Date: May 2018


The Visitor

A row of crosses watch over this cemetery.
They are blue giants, their arms outstretched
and lined with blossoms –
the soul’s fingerprints. The lavender sun sinks
gradually. These crosses approach
a cluster of graves
packed with a quiché lullaby,
covered in everyday doors of every color
except white. And some have knockers,
brass and lovely. And some are cracked and splintered,
ordinary and worn. We keep them company,
uncover each grave. We bring something good.
The pulp of fruit or honey bread,
a calabash, and our words
like the rain our dead drink.

I do not imagine myself below
waiting for a visitor, a friend
in the shape of a sister, or listening
to the rain and remembering
that metallic sound it made
against the tin roof of the house I’ve left
in the backyards of my childhood.
But hope that when I pass, and you remove
the blue door from off of me
that your words are moist like rain. Will they make me
shudder the way a woman once did
in Chichicastenango, singing softly
ever so softly while braiding her daughter’s hair?


Here are poems about papa and place. Poems about family history. Poems that rise from the casket with memories. The rooster turns its head to listen. There is something Dominican that is captured in the beak of each word as this woman moves among her people. She brings lines that are lush and filled with reminders. Yes – “Someone has set the cat among the pigeons.”

— E. Ethelbert Miller, editor of Poet Lore

The gods have bestowed a blessing on us in this radiant debut collection, Love Letter to an Afterlife. Above all else, these poems speak profoundly about survival and preservation of self and family, of language and culture, of memory and identity. These poems put in work, emboldening the many millions of us in the African diaspora in our determination to be, endure, and thrive in the new world. Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi, we sing your name.

— Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back

About the Author

© Seshu Badrinath

I. Rivera Prosdocimi

Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi is a poet, comparatist, and Caribbeanist. Her poetry collection, Love Letter to an Afterlife (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), was a finalist for the 2019 International Latino Book Awards (Best Poetry Book) and the 2019 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Recently, her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Caribbean Writer, New Letters, The New York Times Magazine, and Wasafiri. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University. She teaches literature at the University of Hartford.

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