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Cover art by Verónica Castillo Salas



 

 






 

 

 

 


Editor's Note

James R. Adair

In a letter to his friend Sir George Howland Beaumont written early in the nineteenth century, the English poet William Wordsworth declared, “Laying out grounds may be considered as a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.” I heartily concur with that sentiment. Visiting a well-arranged garden is like visiting an art gallery whose canvas is the earth, whose painter is Nature, and whose designer is the person or persons who laid it out. Those of a more religious bent might agree with Francis Bacon, who said, “God almighty first planted a garden: and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment of the spirits of man; without which, buildings or palaces are but gross handy-works: and a man shall ever see, that when ages grow to civility or elegancy, men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely, as if gardening were the greater perfection.”

This issue of Voices de la Luna celebrates the art of crafting gardens through artistic pieces and literary compositions. Our cover artist Verónica Castillo proclaims both the beauty of the natural world and humanity’s (and particularly women’s) connection with the land. Her recent exhibition, Tierra y Mujer: Un Solo Ser, uses goddess sculptures to illustrate indigenous Mesoamerican culture’s deep intertwining with nature.

Several contributors focus on the beauty of the natural world, both in its wild state (e.g., wildflowers) or after it has been managed by an artistic human hand. For example, our featured poet, Claudia Delfina Cardona, muses about how the seasonal changes that come with summer and fall affect her, reminding her of a past both enjoyable and dolorous. Josie Mendez-Negrete poetically recounts an immigrant family’s journey north to a strange land with different flora, before discovering some species that transcend international borders and reminded them of home. We include other poems that concern gardens and nature, as well as excerpts from prose stories set in gardens and suggestions both aesthetic and practical for designing gardens.

The issue also includes many pieces with a focus outside gardens and nature. Our featured interview is with Alexandra van de Kamp, executive director of Gemini Ink, a local organization that promotes poetry and creative writing through workshops, conferences, and classes that “teach the craft of writing to people of all skill levels so they can bring their stories to life,” as their mission statement says. A recognized poet herself, van de Kamp reflects on poets who inspired her and discusses her ongoing creative work. Finally, we include a section of poetry and photos supporting Ukraine in its resistance to Russia’s invasion of its sovereign soil.

If gardens are nature’s beauty tamed by humans, it follows that fields of untamed wildflowers are the predecessor to gardens. As Dan Rather wrote recently, “One underrated quality of wildflowers is their persistence. Wildflowers bloom in landscapes that have burned. They can once again dot farms that have gone fallow or peek out from old factories that are crumbling. They are, like the season of spring, a sign of rebirth, of the resilience of nature, and of the ability of beauty to be concentrated in a few colorful petals” (Dan Rather, “The Beauty of Wildflowers,” steady.substack.com). May gardens and natural beauty renew all of us.

 


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Themes for future issues
August 2022: Banned Books
November 2022: Pandemic, Two Years In

Current Voices

 

The Names

Elena Lelia Radulescu

“Are we related?” she asks, holding my hand, wrist touching wrist as if my answer would pass through papery-white skin into her blood. “Anna? Maria?” she plays a guessing game, tongue tasting the sounds, rich flavors once tied to a name. I long for the woman before Alzheimer’s took root, the woman with tanned arms taming unruly rose bushes at pruning time, in November. “To last, beauty needs trimming,” she would brandish her shears like a pennant, a signal to follow her steps, me, a novice in the art of raising beauty. “Cut at the armpit of small branches. They grow strong in the spring. Pink Cloe, Red Rachel, Amber Fiona.” Names fit for a painter’s palette, now, no longer burning beauty in her mind.

 

 

 

Desorientada En La Memoria

Itzel Vilches

 

 

 

Untitled (Summer 2021)

Claudia Delfina Cardona

Chicharras sing like elegant car alarms outside the living room window. I wish on the late Texas sky— to be sad again before all this global sickness. Something tightens inside me like a braid pulled tight at the root. I start missing all of the times where I was hedonistic and preoccupied with maximizing my likeableness. I don’t remember everything but it’s hard to forget how I felt. I want to wake up and feel a little less hopeless. I google questions with no real answers while the backyard white sage grows in silence. I like that I can mention the death of Yolanda Lopez and my friends will know exactly who I am talking about. I feel so much pressure to enjoy every autumn because the next one will be different. My braid of memory crushes me like soft petals of geraniums between tissue paper pages of my father’s dictionary. Flatten, but still full of color. My sadness is a hair stuck in the mouth.

 

 

 

Selection from Tierra y Mujer

Verónica Castillo Salas

 

 

 

Claroscuro

John Dávila

Cada tarde al sur del zócalo Antes que el sol reparte lo que le queda, Como si anunciando la noche venidera, La tierra suspira un remolino de plumas Oscuras sobre las avenidas. Se abren como manos los pájaros, Una nube de navajas negras se dobla, Gira, distorsiona la tarde y cambia al cielo Como lo cambia la lluvia. Un ábaco de urracas lleva la cuenta De los aletazos de la coreografía, Transformado el cielo, la nube mueve Como un solo ente y escolta la noche Al primer peldaño del horizonte Antes de esfumarse, llenando los árboles De sombras y abriendo paso para una bandada De estrellas que mueven juntas, también, Como un solo animal por la oscuridad.

 

 

 

Carol Coffee Reposa and Octavio Quintanilla

Reading at the San Antonio Poets in Solidarity with Ukraine Event

 

 

 

Соняшник*, Sunflower, Girasol, Himari

Miryam Bujanda

So far from here And there The emptiness deepens Sunflowers Planted At nuclear places Sprouted Sprung Strong Tubular Stalks Soaked Arsenic Radiation Uranium Sunflower and mustard seedlings Always beneath our feet Always sustaining from all crevices May you carry our burden May your stalks Soak Greed Hate Land-grab SUNFLOWERS! Arise Go Now May your skyward stretching Shimmer Love Centering you and me Beholden Peace To whom You do not know Always In our hearts Always Соняшник *Pronounced sonyashnyk (sunflower in Ukrainian); all the words in the title mean sunflower.