Breve Pausa

—for Juan Antonio Corretjer and Consuelo Lee Tapia

In the photograph, the poet leans over to kiss his wife. He wears a black
suit and a black tie, as if there will be a ceremony and a medallion hung
around his neck. His hair is white and crowns the back of his head. Her hair
is white in waves. She lifts her face to kiss him through his white mustache.

This is a despedida. They are kissing goodbye. The charge is conspiracy again.
The officers born years after his first incarceration lead him away to Castillo
de Ponce. The officers lead her away to the women’s prison at Vega Alta.

The evidence is in the poetry. As the convoy of the empire’s army rumbles in
the dark, past the mountain town where one day they will be buried side by side,
the poet says to his beloved: Esta es pausa / para el amor. Es sólo / breve pausa.
The poet watches her sleep. This is a pause / for love. It’s only / a brief pause.


Copyright © 2024 by Martín Espada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 23, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“Juan Antonio Corretjer was a major poet and advocate for independence in Puerto Rico. He was imprisoned multiple times for his writings, speeches, and organizing on behalf of the independence cause. His wife, Consuelo Lee Tapia, was also a writer and activist for independence. In 1969, they were charged with conspiracy; in 1971, they were incarcerated. The charges were ultimately dismissed. A photograph captured the moment when they kissed goodbye prior to being taken away to their respective prisons. This photograph appears on the cover of Corretjer’s poetry collection Pausa para el amor, or Pause for Love.”
Martín Espada