Rhina Espaillat


Rhina P. Espaillat has published ten full-length books and three chapbooks, comprising poetry, essays, and short stories, in both English and her native Spanish, and translations from and into both languages. Her work appears in many journals, anthologies, and websites, and has earned national and international awards, including the T. S. Eliot Prize in Poetry, the Richard Wilbur Award, the Howard Nemerov Prize, the May Sarton Award, the Robert Frost “Tree at My Window” Prize for translation, several honors from the New England Poetry Club, the Poetry Society of America, the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Salem State College. Espaillat’s most recent publications are two poetry collection in English titled Playing at Stillness and Her Place in These Designs; a book of Spanish translations titled Oscura fruta/Dark Berries: Forty-Two Poems by Richard Wilbur; and a book of Spanish translations titled Algo hay que no es amigo de los muros/Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall: Forty Poems by Robert Frost. She is a frequent reader, speaker and workshop leader, and is active with the Powow River Poets, a literary group she cofounded in 1992.  Source

Weighing In

What the scale tells you is how much the earth

has missed you, body, how it wants you back

again after you leave it to go forth


into the light. Do you remember how

earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock

you in their arms, warm in the flow


that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began

to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick

at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin,


and finally to stoke you, body, drumming

intimate coded messages through music

you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming


and your poems and your obedient blood.

Body, how useful you became, how lucky,

heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad,


sometimes, imagining that greedy zero

you must have been, that promising empty sack

of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow.


But look at you now, body, soft old shoe

that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look

how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image

Science & Climate

Literary Devices:


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified)


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered