Sunday, January 15, 2012


"Going Back"

They drop everything when I return
Angel and Mathilde beam proud smiles
as their prodigal
rubia returns.
Walking down the rutted path,
My old home sits overlooking the
Muddy river Manati.
I slip and slide into Mathilde’s arms.
I almost forget our tradition: three kisses on the cheek.
I find my friends as when I left.
Mathilde handwashing threadbare clothing.
Angel ordering Yefri, his grandson to work
Anything but sit idle: he makes up chores.
He yells, he curses, he throws up his hand
In the next breath,
we embrace.
He is smiling, he is yelling at his son.
Never realizing that I am disturbed by this
Emotional and verbal abuse of my second family.
It has been raining.
they say, you shouldn’t have gotten wet.
You should have visited us sooner.
We are so happy you have come.
You better be staying for Christmas.
I am already disappointing.

I think back to
My first night in their home.
I arrived at ten pm. Stomach in knots.
Welcome to your new community
For the next two years.
Their smiles could not hide their nerves.
Two adolescents, mom and dad sat around me
In a half-moon not hiding their desire
to see how I ate.
I lifted up the bowl. The gas lamp illuminated a fried egg, swimming
In oil, floating above the cassava root.
Warm guayaba juice was served.
Flies instantly fell in the sweet syrup.
I drank it anyway. I feared being rude.
I feared being a disappointment.
we picked mangos that first morning, Yefri and I.
He was 15, I was 24, he taught me about the campo.
He and Yenni laughed that I tripped in the darkness.
They joked I did not know how to peel platano.
I had never seen a sour orange.
They held my hand, helping the gringa baby in the pitch
Black find her way home after endless late night dominos.
Poppi, my uncle, smiles a crooked grin
To tell me he is using the Harry Potter series in Spanish
As toilet paper.
He is impressed with his resourcefulness
I am disheartened.
There is fruit, there is gossip,
There is boredom as thick
As cold honey.

Five months spent among
Humble, kind campesinos. They are real
Real family now.
A year spent missing them
Wondering if I made the right decision
To move to a new community
But walking down the muddy path,
I watch the rain doodle and draw the path anew.
And I know
I am home.

"Dawn in the Rice Field"

Beckoning horizon
Spread out before you
Inviting you to wake with a start
Silent crusty-eyed Haitians
Avert their eyes and
Steal a glance with the
Reflection of a machete
My ipod costs more than
Their toil earns in a month.
What does she run from?
They ask with their eyes
No, Im not late
Our sweat,
Our otherness
Our non-Dominican accents
Bring us together on the gravel path
I worry about finding fruit for breakfast
They Fear deportation.
We share a passing fist pump
I practice my broken Creole
They laugh at my acknowledgement
I am thankful for their presence
The heat unabashedly announces itself
Well before the sun
Exchanges places
With the moon
A motorcycle passing provides
The only movement
Among the static rice stalks
Tiny lizards dart under my feet
My body wakes on my way home
Still worrying if a neighbor will gift
Me ripe bananas
We are the other
I am too white
They are too black
To avoid being told we are foreign
What does it matter I silently scream
I wear sunscreen
You eat green bananas
And she walks out of necessity
We are different
But why
Must we talk about it so much?
I just wanted to run
To watch the sunrise
You just wanted
To state the obvious
These are mornings in
The Rice Fields
Rice Fields on the border.

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