The Rivers Are Inside Our Homes

The Rivers Are Inside Our Homes

by Victoria María Castells
The Rivers Are Inside Our Homes

The Rivers Are Inside Our Homes

by Victoria María Castells


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


The Rivers Are Inside Our Homes handles themes of loss and exile, aging generations, fable and fairy tale, marriage and hurt, with the island of Cuba at its heart.

These incandescent poems by Cuban American poet Victoria María Castells explore how we can salvage our notion of paradise in an overspent Eden. In thwarted homes located in Havana and Miami, Rapunzel and her prince, persecuted nymphs, Morgause, and Bluebeard’s wife speak to us directly, all in need of returning to safety. Confronting machismo, illness, heartbreak, and isolation, the poems depict how women are at the mercy of men, either husband or oligarch. Yet all generations of Cubans are bombarded with this need to return or to leave, to have both, to have neither.

Meanwhile, hurricane seasons add further instability to shelter and family, growing fiercer every year. Exile and displacement are accepted as permanent conditions. Latin America will mirror Cuba’s violent struggles as conquered land and despotic object. From the colonial desecrations to fraught revolutionary aftermath, the search for home is lyrically charted by this contradictory land of suffering and dreams. Through these poems, dictators, grandmothers, mythical characters, and buccaneers are given voices of equal strength, challenging what constitutes truth under a prism of fantasy and desire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780268205676
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date: 08/01/2023
Series: Notre Dame Review Book Prize
Pages: 102
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.21(d)

About the Author

Victoria María Castells is a creative writing teacher in Miami, Florida. Her poems have appeared in Reservoir, The Journal, Quarter After Eight, Notre Dame Review, and other literary journals.

Read an Excerpt

Wishing Game

There were two women in the garden

and between them, ponds opened up

wide enough to hide both for a time.

They ran and ran far away as long

as they could, though paradise

was a map for runaway wives

and you’d soon end up back

again to the original point.

Swimming was the same.

They were moody, scrubbed harder

and weeping between hiding places;

as well as that the man pursued

them and sprang them out from

under hemlock and water.

I have been gifted with choice, he said,

the mother of all beings, to replace

the dirt that does not talk to me.

And he declared pure one hand

pulled out of pond, a leg and a

bit of face and length of hair,

and so she was chosen and thus birthed us,

humanity spilling out like angelic desire—

Trees ran and twisted from the earth. Fruit sprung like stars.


the women sought out the seraphim

to join together their grouped wings

as shelter, rustle in silence underneath

the foaming sun, newly formed scales

to glisten under fountain and sweetness

of water, hiding their long necks with

their loosened hair.

Stars grew underneath us. Sickness and debt took all men away.

Nectar formed in our ponds and we were not yet bid to leave.

More babies grew from the ground though the feathers on their backs

were more like birds and they opened their beaks to be fed.

The snake held back a little longer. Sin gathered like sweat

and crusted like dew at the trees. Every day, the jungle grew,

soaking us. We drank from the jawbones of water serpents

and asked if we were not meant to stay.

Ask us if we did not warp and buckle, an oasis below Heaven,

to spring like cancer and rain the land in bad brew.

Let us know if we did not smile, all of us, when you asked

if we did not have more spoil to give, if we were not

overrun in bounty and flame, seasoned with composite

children, why we could not accept the exile offered us,

why we had charred to annihilation our own kings.


Yes, he asked you for a sandwich.

It was 1992, Hurricane Andrew already flooding

your basement and tearing apart your orange trees,

the two of you hiding out the category 5 in a closet.

And yes, you did it. It was 2 a.m. but you took

your flashlight to the powerless kitchen

and made him a roast beef sandwich.

You even put on mayonnaise.

The refrigerator was dead silence

and medium warmth, but you had not the heart

to throw away the food for him, despite the rotting

the future would bring, the maniac scents

you knew would tide out and drench.

There is no need to explain.

In case he might need nourishment, in case

your husband might call out your name.

You are beckoned and summoned and loved.

Matilde, Matilde,

the hurricane says to you

from outside the windows

besieged and surrendering,

from the garden leaning

and whipped, in pain,

a shedding of fruit and citrus.

Estoy aquí, estoy aquí,

you almost say in turn,

the roast beef offering

in front of you.

You knew his hands

were useless without golf clubs,

without air, without bread to hold,

small tasks to complete,

to order others and to proclaim.

You knew this was a trial,

bad story, the world that demanded

everything from you, another complaint to

seed and grow inside your skin.

Pain and sons and meal preparation

and exile. You would greet

the hurricane later. You knew.

You knew.

Table of Contents



February Fifteenth MDCCCXCVIII


To Make a Balsa Because You Have To

Hurricane Advice from Your Sister



Wishing Game


A Short Journey

CSS Stonewall Stationed in Havana Harbor

On Both Sides, Water

Che in Technicolor

Cuba, Boasted Rival of Swiss Chocolate

Go to the Smallest Room Right Now

Mothers’ Warnings


Rupture, Alternating

Las Princesas Bailarinas

María Antonia




A Liking, Somewhat

On a Husband’s Next Family

Hot Season


If the Water is Hot and Does Not Warm You

Maiden Without Hands in the Exile


Key to the Indies


Cajas de Muerto


A Ruler is Poseidon

The Pirate

How Can You Make a Communist Flower?

Diagnosis in Exile


And for the Head, a Crown

Antilles Formation

The Rivers Are Inside Our Home

Shelter in Place

Havana Syndrome

Trump Meeting Kim Jong-Un


From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews