On Sunday June 14, proud, sun-kissed Boricuas marched rivers up New York’s Fifth Avenue bringing an unsubtle clang of national pride. But, quieter, in the poetic pages of Yasmar Cruz’s Ríos De Sol, the author contemplates another frontier territory of the human heart – getting back in balance with nature, the purity of the sun bouncing off a river, and riding on the quandary of love’s ebb and flow.
Cruz writes in her poem “Primavera,” “Respírame bajo tus sabanas de calor/junto a tus ojos de brillo…. Frescas memorias de cálidos sueños,/pintas en los rostros al amanecer….” Lines loosely translated from Spanish as “Breathing beneath your heated blanket, looking into your bright eyes…. Fresh memories of dreams painted with the morning.”
A dream, love, and a connection to the natural world are themes that interconnect poems in Ríos De Sol, an 85-page book filled with a myriad of painted memories and emotions. Cruz’s poems are deceptively concise packed with layers of feeling. Written almost as haikus, these poems conjure naturalistic elements with the short hand of someone who knows the economy of language, the value of Shakespeare’s “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
In Cruz’s poetry, it is the heat of nature and of the sun, which infects the heat of the body and the natural world with splendor and delights connected to the splendors of the body. She writes in “Ansias de Mayo” that the warmth of the sun feels like freedom. Rivers from around the world flow through these pages that read a lot like poems of lost love or the recorded music of woods, grass, trees and water.
“Río Adentro” tells of the river within where water like memory can be polluted with hurt. Water too that once purified, cleansed and cleaned too can be muddy with murky memory. Cruz’s deeply felt metaphors bring a reader closer to a Latina living and writing in New York City, and longing for a more bucolic setting. Without irony, reading Ríos De Sol would improve any reader’s Spanish vocabulary and diction. Cruz’s subject matter – the love of nature and the nature of love – seem deceptively easy. The language here is deeply emotional, thoughtful and worth reading. As a professional dancer and performer, Cruz translated the natural fluidity of body movement allowing words and ideas to do all the dancing.
After all the pageantry and revelry of the Puerto Rican Day weekend subsides, one turns to summer leisure and beach reading. Beware; if a reader takes Rios De Sol to the beach, s/he could be equally enthralled by the poetry and natural surroundings. For a moment, s/he might not be able to tell the difference between the two.
Ríos De Sol is a fine book of poetry for natural lovers and nature lovers, and lost love that once flowed towards but has since gone a stream. Cruz packs multiple ideas into the recreation of her visit to natural surrounding while revisiting old emotions. This is a wonderful book for those who know that it is not what is said but those things left unsaid; floating to the wind, hanging on the vine or let to flow away on the gentle waves of a river.