The Grammar of Senses / Cristina DeSouza


The Grammar of Senses

poems by

Cristina DeSouza

ISBN: 978-1-59948-768-7, ~52 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Release Date: November 19, 2019


Cristina DeSouza is a poet and physician, living in Vermont, where she practices medicine and writes. She was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry, by Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has had poems published both in Portuguese (her mother idiom) and in English by several magazines in both countries (in the States: Poetry Pacific, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Voices Project, San Diego Poetry Annual, Synesthesia Literary Journal to cite a few.) In 2011, she had a book of poems published in Portuguese (Brazil) and titled Uns Poucos Versos.

In The Grammar of Senses, Cristina DeSouza takes us on a heart’s journey through the night of loss into a renewed sense of self, strong and hopeful. Like all true poets she knows the “poem of wounds,” but also that singing heals, beauty blooms from nothingness. With recurring images, this beautiful song cycle carries her into a place where home is not outside, but within “my blooming heart, pumping red, color of my hope.” ~Betsy Sholl

“Doesn’t all beauty bloom from nothingness?” asks Cristina de Souza’s poem “Germination.” De Souza makes clear that the seeds of beauty are everywhere in language: in grammar, in metaphor, in diction, and in sound. Each poem in this haunting collection full of shadow and light not only elucidates complicated emotions—longing, dislocation, and love—but simultaneously honors the unsayable. ~Natasha Sajé



I don’t write about peach-colored
roses in a garden starred with petals.

I only watch the desert in bloom,
poem of thorns where birds drink
green cacti in arid soil.

Poetry in the desert is not to be
written about, but to be observed
with eyes dressed in awe and
spirit devoid of prejudice against
the solitary flower that sprouts from
the fractures of dry earth.

And dry is also my verve that
is drained as sweat through my pores
seduced by the scent of the lonely
rose, born in silence and hope.

It’s Spring in the desert, while I
listen to quails and watch yellow
butterflies. The wind coming
from the South reminds
me of the tropic where I was born.
There the ocean is a desert of water
where my memory drowns under
seemingly blue skies.





Inside me flames burn
and set my breath on
fire. But nothing comes
out from me. Only this
bonfire fed by angst and
longing. Your absence
devours me into ashes. Your
forgetfulness crushes my
thoughts and not even the breeze
of the night can cool down
this heat emanating from your
impermanence. Only the
memory of your clear eyes
remains. Nothing else.
Everything is less: less of your
smile, less of your mouth, less
of your fine fingers that I no
longer see, nor touch, nor kiss.
And dawn is a blaze inside me.
I burn slowly, my skin, my eyes,
my tears and only your indifference
stays intact, while I disappear in
ashes before the morning touches
the horizon all yellow.





I resurrect green from the mud
I am made of. Deep blue skies
hugging a world full of promises.
I gain life slowly, as I get up
from the dry lava, a volcano in me
whose flame is extinct at twilight.

I sing a dissonant song, clear and
perfect, contrasting with the falling
dusk. I lift my eyes above the horizon
seeping fuchsia in this almost night,
hearing greetings in
different languages, beyond

the Greenwich Meridian, where
Earth wakes up. Dew feeds
and bathes me until morning
comes again, yellow and bright
and I can stand up tall and
open like a sunflower in the wind.

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