Bolivar and San Martin: Guayaquil, Ecuador

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Concluding "Veinte Poemas de amor, y una cancion desesperada

You’ll have to pardon me tonight, Neruda,
But I’m finished.
I’m done poring over you words,
Tracing the perfection of their weave and hating myself
Because I cannot make my words sing like your versos mas tristes,
Verses so sad indeed that they flood my heart with ice water,
And buckle my knees if I think of them in stride.

I cannot transcribe the silence of evening
Nor the perfection of a floating bumblebee.
But things such as these you capture in words,
And as I read them I throw my hands in air,
Half in celebration, half in disbelief.

I have often wondered how it was you learned
The perfection of your craft. It could have been practice,
But as I sit here now, having intended to write a poem,
I am almost certain you were born with it.

I have been patient, dear Neruda,
But I cannot go any farther.
I am weak, for as much as
I praise your gift, I covet it more.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

11 p.m: My mother’s kitchen

The green glow of the digital clock
That sits over the oven would be the only light
Illuminating my mother’s kitchen right now.
Its weak beam hints at the cage across the room,
Below the window with the blinds pulled closed,
Where little Bella sleeps quietly.
And suddenly a foot scrapes over the gate
That bars the kitchen door, and Bella pops up,
Her tail wagging, her tongue hanging down
In her canine way of smiling.
When the light comes on her hopes are confirmed: Kristi has come home.

It was a long day at work, no doubt.
The children must learn, their papers must be graded,
Their next day of activities planned.
With great care, she lifts little Bella from her cage,
Letting her play once more before she must be shut in for the night.
Kristi smiles at the puppy’s innocent charm,
And kisses her on top of the head before delicately
Placing her back in her cage.

In the room directly above, my mother is sleeping
Peacefully, far removed from those years of hardship.
I am called back to the times when she worked
All day, and then deep into the night,
And if she was lucky she would see me for a minute
Before I had to be in bed for the night. When she could,
What great love she poured into that kiss on my forehead,
Or into the song she sang as I drifted off to sleep.
Those times are gone, yet they remain a part of me forever.
Not because she showed me what it was to persevere,
But because she embodied love, sacrificing everything
For Andrea, Kristi, and me.