The Sun Is a Jaguar

Two poems by Tiffany Higgins

Omolú who wears a veil / Of husks, tied so you can’t  / Peer inside. But the god / Perceives you, dusty shape, / As he moves inside his hay

The Sun Is a Jaguar

The sun is an onça, a spotted jaguar.
It wants to cleave you with its bright hammer,
Blot out the space between you and your thoughts.
It wants to people your skin with manchas,
Sow on your surface wobbled spots.
Only the breath of the tree may save you,
So go stumble under its uttered leaves,
Green sun to sieve that other sun.
Palm of buriti or castanheira of potency
Or deep in the forest the grand Samaúma.
Like a moist tea bag, perhaps carqueja,
Damp gorse that strains hot water of sky.
To bless you, the tree need not ask why.



                                              Omolú is an orixá of candomblé dressed in raffia with a beaded scepter

I don’t know which
Kind of gods would visit
Hit, strike, shake,
Fall ruin upon my skull,
Except these I suddenly
Can see, relocated here
Where others sway belief:
Omolú who wears a veil
Of husks, tied so you can’t
Peer inside. But the god
Perceives you, dusty shape,
As he moves inside his hay
Stack that pitches
Back and forth. Husks
Clatter, the xaxará
He agitates so seeds
Scrape and chatter
As feet fall heavy upon soil
And torso roils
To and fro like a hull
In a storm, flotsam
On a dusty wave.
Ch-ch-ch-Ch-ch-ch Ch-ch-ch-Ch–
Fronds dangle
Sweep a land
In thirst
Of this rising wind,
Storm sent from afar.
Bend, curl, paw
The ground as once
A thigh of faroff time looped
& stooped to replicate.
Tent of soul, germinate.
Sky mirror as feet
Fall rhythmic upon it.
You’re dreaming all this,
But the trick is, it’s also
Dreaming you. You’d tied
Yourself to a separate fate,
A mast erect in the straight. Now
In step and out of step,
With Omolú you undulate.


Tiffany Higgins is a writer, translator, and poet. She is the author of “The Apparition at Fort Bragg” (2016), an e-chapbook available free on Issuu, winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review e-single contest for a long poem, selected by Camille Dungy; “And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet” (Carolina Wren Press, 2009), winner of the Carolina Wren Poetry Prize; and a chapbook of translations from Portuguese of Alice Sant’Anna’s poetry, “Tail of the Whale” (Toad Press, 2016). She writes often on Brazilian socio-environmental topics.