This morning I was inspired to write a few poems about my life in the Dominican Republic. I am no poet but it seemed easier to express myself in this way. I am trying to come to terms with my conflicting feelings and emotions. Lately I have focused on embracing the difficulties and enjoying the uniqueness of all my experiences, good and bad. Enjoy.
Ode to my Dona,
To My Dominican Mother
I came to share with you,
But I eat your rice,
I drink your coffee,
I reap the best fruit from your soursop tree
I am taking, not giving.
I am floundering,
I am sinking.
I am giving up.
Your smile helps me stay afloat.
You take time to show me how to swim
In the waters of your island.
You laugh at me,
At my simple mistakes.
You teach me to dance
like your mother taught you.
You say I must learn things.
You say I know nothing
You say I am very intelligent.
You call me hija, you yell
If I do not call you,
to say I am fine.
You insist I eat large amounts.
You say I am getting fat
you say it with pride.
We share recipes, bandannas,gossip
and hot afternoons.
Is it enough to sit with you?
To sweat alongside you?
To pick guavas with you…
This is not what I thought it would be.
Am I doing enough?
You share your world with me and ask
Me to tell you things
You see our differences while
I see our similarities
Not running away
but sharing my day.
This is harder than change
than facing the unknown.
Thank you for teaching me
For feeding me
For holding my hand
For showing me how to navigate
Early Morning in Judea Nueva
Along the dirt roads of the town,
Joy and sadness are exchanged as currency.
Beauty and destruction rub elbows.
The full range of human emotion is palpable.
Nothing is hidden away.
I stretch, I walk, I leave my clapboard house.
My senses are assaulted
by the lives of others.
The sweet morning air is tempered by
Fumes of acrid smoldering waste.
Good morning to my neighbors as they sweep
the dust from the dirt.
Burn the decay and destroy it.
A woman planting flowers alongside
A boy throwing rocks at a street dog.
The sun sheds its rays on the verdant
A Haitian child pets my dog
and asks for 5 pesos.
I walk towards the growing fireball.
While the moon dissolves overhead.
Refuse, trash, and discarded cans
Sully the tranquil path.
Remnants of a people struggling to keep
their bellies full.
Some have no more than their machete and a cookpot.
The ground they squat on is not their own.
I smile and I wave
They ask why I am not like the others
Why do I look and acknowledge
their lives in the mud.
Their naked children chasing chickens and eating off the ground.
I do not have an answer.
They ask me for things.
Why have I not built a church
or given them clothes
like the other gringos.
I say I will give less handouts,
but stay longer
I say they must help me.
they like this.
Your time is better
than a tshirt
my neighbor says.
When you leave
can I have your bed?
I continue down the road:
looking, pausing, chatting.
I know I want to see
so that I never forget.
The joy, the sadness, the patience,
I am glad they do not hide anything away.
They say our town is forgotten,
Their country is lost and hunkering down
The path of ruination.
In the next breath,
They smile and
Say I should never leave their island
I should marry a Dominican because
This is the best place to be.
I am greeted with open arms, with kisses, and
With sugary-sweet espresso shots
It is too early to leave, sit with me, get out of the sun.
We share our stresses, our burdens, our complaints
I have stopped seeing it as them and me,
separate but different.
Now, I feel I am being transformed
and am embracing the
Be who you are and be that well.
Be the change you wish to see in the world
Be true to yourself.
I don’t know if I am sure who I am so
How do I be true to
what I do not yet know?
we live together.
For now that is enough.