Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Silvia Curbelo emigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was a child. Her poetry has been published in literary journals and over two dozen anthologies such as The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry (W.W. Norton), Snakebird: Thirty Years of Anhinga Poets (Anhinga Press), and Norton's Anthology of Latino Literature.
She has received the Individual Artist Fellowship from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for poetry three times. In addition Curbelo has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Seaside Institute, the Writer's Voice, the Florida Arts Council and Cintas Foundation for her poetry. She won the Atlantic Center for the Arts Cultural Exchange Fellowship to La Napoule Arts Foundation in France. In 1996 Curbelo won the Jessica Nobel-Maxwell Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review.
Silvia Curbelo is published in the American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooney and Tampa Review in addition to others. She has authored three collections, The Geography of Leaving (Silverfish Review Press), The Secret History of Water (Anhinga Press) and Ambush (www.mainstreetrag.com). The Secret History of Water was the inaugural volume of the Anhinga Press Van K. Brock Florida Poetry Series. The most recent collection, Ambush, won the Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition. Curbelo currently lives and works in Tampa as an editor for Organica Quarterly.
Small Craft Warnings
When the day slips out of context
When wind shifts in its tracks
and the sails fold in on themselves
When birds let go of their shadows
When weeds unlock a hidden garden
When the clouds part and the smoke clears
and the day stretches to its vanishing point
like a story that begins in a house by a river
and ends anywhere the sky goes S. Curbelo
Let the water rise in you, let it
fill all the spaces in your head, let it
slip through your windows and doors, let it
drench everything you know, the room
and all its ruined voices, the burned out
couches and chairs, the television
always on, let it drag
itself through you
taking the river with it,
its work song, its small humming,
a prayer like an old shoe the current ferries
to the vanishing point, let it
empty itself in you, a kind of thirst,
an inkling, moth of light filling
your mouth with wings, let the gravity
of stones sink through it
for all the sleepless nights,
pink slips, betrayals, the empty
boat of your desires drifting
in a place so deep the land
slips away from its moorings
Sunlight forgives everything
it touches, erasing every stone
in its path. Salt on its palm,
it cracks open the shell of any
story, thick as kindness moving
through the grass. But rain
leaves no blade unturned.
It lays a stubborn hand
on the horizon, pushing down.
Into the ground. Into the dark
earth. Where small things bloom.
The Secret History of Water
In an attic room near the river
a child leans out the impossibly
high window to watch so much
dark water going past.
There is no true color for it.
There is no precise word for it either.
Say flood. Say stream.
Say immeasurable thirst.
You can feel it rising.