Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Puerto Rico

Born on a turf
a medieval remnant
Owned by the United States
it was almost water
So minute the earthen formation,
barely rock,
a swift of natura intention
geologic lift forgot the mud load
as the rising slow, eruption
popped
peep there it is piedra Caribe,
world mapmakers save
on the ink,
what minuscule elaboration
bays, lakes,
hidden caves
landscape, chains of mountains
opening blue neck of sky
mounted glued
alongside other Hispano-Caribbean isles
Santo Domingo/embracing Haiti
Cuba bird snake long.
Spanish-African movement.
the Federation which
Betances the doctor clambered for
the Hispania Antilles,
intellectual political Independence.
Some letter bestowing Puerto Rico
sovereignty
from the Spanish Crown
the United States no desire
to open that envelope.
Betances visionary mestizo
Paris his doctors’ foot.
 
The epoch of gold
when on the island with my son
we made home,
in the neighborhood of
the tobacconists
Aguas Buenas
on a street called Antorcha
a socialist flame
of the independentistas
workers barrio of chichales.
My family there Generations.
The mornings waking my son
for school,
watching him become a man,
awakening sense to life,
his first girl kisses
that pretty brown girl
primer girlfriend
I spotted them once
wrapped round each other,
like two bacalaito fritters
tangled,
later my mother cooked
Red beans and plantain tostones
along with yellow rice sparked with corn,
The island was this sofrito flavor for me,
bolero music of my mother
she grew sadness with the lyrics
wondering of all the lost loves,
memories illusions making
efforts to materialize,
see them almost
like bridges hanging out
from her eyes.
Days were
found her in tears
lonely in her room
Fragrance of Florida water
circulating blue colcha,
picture of her mother
and father above bed,
nothing was ever coming,
the only future was the end.
 
The Caribbean is everywhere
lost within us,
trapped in kitsch glorious
rooms of plasticity jails,
so much grime ‘’tween
the beauty contra-la-danza,
René Marqués our writer
Belched out
“Condenao mar, tanta agua
Y no limpia nah”
 
Through the bullets
flying now in panoramic tropical
scenarios,
Mother kept singing,
as esperanza, gently vibrato
hope like a white 
Garza landing upon a cadaver.
 
Humming
songsforever
soothing.
convinced
she would meet
everyone she knew
in heaven again.
Singing boleros
café con leche,
Pastelillos de Guayaba.
 
To the bad times,
give a happy face,
place a red amapola
in your black dark hair.
Revive the mummies,
the dead,
burst the bodies
out of the coffins
let’s all walk to the plaza
this final time
paint with silver starlight
the ancient songs
in night sky,
Rain Again
What never commenced
Comes to a finale. 
 

Credit


From Beneath the Spanish by Victor Hernández Cruz. Copyright © 2017 by Victor Hernández Cruz. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Coffee House Press, www.coffeehousepress.org.

Author


Victor Hernández Cruz

Victor Hernández Cruz was born in 1949 in Puerto Rico. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Beneath the Spanish (Coffee House Press, 2017).

Date Published: 2017-10-02

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/puerto-rico