Opía en Flor de Guava


Volume 8, Issue 04
February 24, 2023

Mythological creatures stir and inhabit a culture. In the Dominican Republic, the Hupia or Opía,1 is a reflection of how myths affect rituals of the daily lives of campesinos2 today. The Opía arose when Taínos3 inhabited the island; being the spirit of the ones who have passed away, one cannot tell if they are real humans or not. They are disguised as family members or friends. These humanoid creatures don’t have a navel, they just became. In this poem, Anacaona, female cacique, writes about how she saw an Opía in the fields of guava. This story is juxtaposed with the present, where Juana goes to the fields to pray that Opías don’t eat her guava.

Extrapolating the origin,
conceived from human interactions,
the Myth is born in liminal space,
narratives of gods inhabit the barzak.
The barzak4  : The limbo.
Everything and nothing,
living and dead,
river and sea,
magic and religion coexist.

The memory of eternal belonging.
Oral stories and beliefs are justified.
Totem is anthropology.
The cemi5 is God,
culture is cultivated.

Through ceremonial repertoire
mythological gods give birth to a nation
birth to its matter;
bodies of water,
geological bodies,
human bodies,
with birth,
comes Death.

In caves of the Caribbean,
The terrestrial womb,
Taínos are buried as born.
Fetal at 0,
Fetal at 72,
your spirit rebirths.
as a God or Opía.
Forever in the sky…
Forever tied to the earth.

Being of the dead,
mirror of the living,
lost soul.
Creature of danger for the young, guardians for the old.
Dominicans wander the night
In search for Opías,
dressed as friends,
costumes of flesh and bone,
No navel
No scarring
No trace
No source of life.

Anacaona, flor de oro
I have seen them
walking at night
in search of guava
in fields of cassava.
Prayers from Juana
Eco on the skin.
La Jupia 6 Dominicana
transforms at night,
A flying bat.
Rituals take place,
words are recited,
bats keep eating,
Juana keeps praying
el campo7 is awakened.

El campo,
Living museum
Of Taino narratives.
Epistemological placemaking,
a companionship to the place
and its homegrown ethos.
Landscape becomes Culture,
Race becomes Culture.
Identity cannot live without land,
a social transformation,
generator of sound,
songs and poems,
evidence of the living and the dead, Organic in equilibrium,
Fluently existing in the myth.

  1. Spirit of the dead embodied as a human without a navel. ↩︎
  2. A native of a rural area in the Dominican Republic. ↩︎
  3. Índigenous group of the caribbean, Arawak group descendant from the Orinoco ↩︎
  4. Liminal space between life and afterlife. ↩︎
  5. Zemí is the immaterial presence of spirituality of Taino deities. ↩︎
  6. Informal rural way of vocalizing Opia ↩︎
  7. Rural area in the Dominican Republic. ↩︎

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Volume 8, Issue 04
February 24, 2023

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