Nia Andino

Mi Oración Egoista 

do you know
when the thunder boasts
and my cheeks bloom of frangipani 
it is a glorified asking

a Dios le pido 

for the land that scribes on the bottom of my heel
identifies me by weight and pressure
to drag my cartography to threshold
and scrape its sobbing memory outside my door

our family has a thing for forgetting
it is a convenience
                          until it is not
my shoe sings to swollen ankle
a line of mahogany and melancholy
drags a wing of yellow dockets and torn hibiscus
to a gentle flooding
where a hydrant becomes a displaced warming
for my body to remember

my grandfather's shoe song of seawater, soca and picket signs
swinging a gait of wandering jazz

for my body to remember

my grandmother's skin, a mural of stitches 
where life found its way to suckle and leave erratic braille 
for those who dare their love to touch her

for my body to remember

my mother living longer than being mothered

I tend to her dreams when she visits bodies of water
watch the river in her breath for when it appears too calm
cue my eyes to sing
mi oración egoista

que mi madre no se muera
y que mi padre me recuerde
a Dios le pido 

and beg my face to decorate more than their memories

* Juanes, "A Dios Le Pido", Un Dia Normal 2003

For When Home is a Bruised Mango

La curandera told me Puerto Ricans are a people of always searching
I understood this
I searched for mangoes in school
The kind that had San Juan trade winds tucked in its skin
Or baked to the ends of copper and viridian by a St. Thomian sun
I knew if there were mangoes in school, someone would understand calypso on Saturday mornings was home carried through speakers 
And I knew I could find someone to hum the violins of El Cantante with me like Sunday hymns

My grandfather pushed his existence onto a boat between islands
He was forever bridging
But somehow my arms were always machetes
To the peering fish and bruised fruit my grandfather was smuggling in
Severing song hummed through local news stained on cardboard and fraying twine
His hands,
a crackling of black creases embalmed by cooking fat and ostentatious suns
Would unpack home into our sink
While I stirred fungi and plucked out the slimed okra
Asking from the nook of his side
If home remembered me
And if it sent me mangoes

Wind Griots

holding a conch to your ear
feels quite redundant 
if you stand in the water

but we carry on this act
and instill our glee
from sounds of abandoned homes

now the sea of blue tarps
you see from the mountaintops
rivals the ocean

I search the uphill of sand
where the palm tree fans
these shells in to splendored post

the best view for a griot
is comings and goings
to place bodies in stories
for the life of a queen conch
averages seven
too short for a retelling

still now I ask her
if she saw a man
who took his last breath alone

a tall shell of glistening black
back curved by a tree
with limbs of unforgetting

she sighs
a drowning
do not worry his hands
still smell of fish
in the afterlife

Nia Andino is a New York born visual artist, writer and graduate of Parsons School of Design. Raised with the culture of Caribbean stories in her home, she is drawn to elements of visual and verbal expression that reflect her Afro- Boricua/Caribbean roots, and the beauty and condition of the human soul. Her art has been collected and shown at several galleries in New York, New Jersey, California and Puerto Rico. She has created the art for the book covers of In Defense of Glitter and Rainbows and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement, The Muse. Nia’s writing has been published in Moko Magazine, The Abuela Stories Project, Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse and Latinas: Protests and Struggles in the 21st Century USA. You can view her work at and follow her on Instagram at andino_styles.