July 28, 2021KR OnlinePoetry

Two Poems

Why Aren’t You Running to Do What Your Nature Demands? Or, Why Haven’t You Visited Cuba?

I meet them in line at the deli counter, the post office, someone’s graduation. I know better than to speak Spanish, but La Gringa will smell it on me, will see the sawed-off, other-tongue writhing in my pocket. Her eyes will search me without the gleam of gloves, and though her first question is unrelated, she’ll think immediately of the green bananas, how strange the locals that ate them. After my first courtesy laugh, she will introduce me to her husband. He’ll place his hand on my shoulder, or the small of my back, and I’ll know he still touches himself to the thought of the women, their breasts gorging like brown water barrels. He is the first to say Cuba. He exaggerates both syllables so the country rhymes with an instrument but also sounds like a faulty police siren. Together, they repeat the story of the slow-if-at-all Internet, how they thought it a prank, and novel. When they reach for their phones, it is time for the musts. You must go here, see this, or, You must be dying to, but never You must have your reasons. I want to tell them I have lived in the by-product—the run-off. I want to say, I live as the dream-body. The tongue in my pocket salivates. I won’t ask if they know who their dollars satisfy. I won’t answer the question for them.



                              Para Beatrice

When G-d was a boy the dirt was dark red,
and the myths of women, explicit.
Just enough of the world had been distributed
to know what was possible—what you didn’t
or couldn’t have. Love hid in the kernels
of handsome mamey fruit. We sorted
through piles of black beans in case they lied
about its whereabouts; we built ladders
we were too tired to climb. We cried.
Eventually, we cried so often we were forced
to invent salvation. We’d fill the largest bucket
we could find with the coldest water. We’d sit
the crier down and crowd behind her.
After several synchronized breaths, we’d lift
the bucket and tip it downward. What was left
no longer resembled crying, but we chanted
Come back, come back to us, anyway.