Ruth Irupé Sanabria was born in Bahia Blanca, Argentina during a dictatorship (1976-1984) that claimed the lives of over 30,000 people from all walks of life. Both of her parents were kidnapped, tortured, and “disappeared” in clandestine concentration camps. After a 6 month disappearance, her parents were transferred to separate prisons as political prisoners. She and her mother were exiled to Seattle, Washington on December 23, 1979. Ruth Irupé grew up between Seattle, Washington and Washington, DC (Mt. Pleasant and Adams Morgan). Her first collection of poetry, The Strange House Testifies (Bilingual Press), won 2nd place (Poetry) in the 2010 Annual Latino Book Awards. Her second collection of poems, Beasts Behave in Foreign Land, received the 2014 Letras Latinas/Red Hen Press Award. Her poems have appeared in anthologies such as Women Writing Resistance and U.S. Latino Literature Today. She holds an MFA from NYU and a BA in English and Puerto Rican & Hispanic Caribbean Studies from Rutgers. She works as a high school English teacher and lives with her husband and three children in Perth Amboy, NJ.
By Ruth Irupé SanabriaAdded: Friday, September 29, 2017 / From "Beasts Behave in Foreign Land," (Red Hen Press, 2017). Used with permission.
My grandfather asked me: could I remember
him, the park, the birds, the bread?
I’ll be dying soon, he said.
His voice would stretch the ocean and end there,
inside the olive phone in our tiny kitchen.
My mother would stretch the green shell to my ear,
speak, say something, speak. My fingers tugged the cord
across our red wooden table. Listening to the dark adios,
I carved half moons into the wood with my fingernails.
In case I am dead by your next birthday, hija, remember . . .
We ate without him, without any elders
and the world was fine.
We have yet to bury our bones in this foreign land.
When we do, where will we come from then?
Already, home is a carnation pinned to our cold breasts.