My Mother’s Voice: A Cuban Memory

“My Mother’s Voice – A Cuban Memory”

My body hungers to see you, my long lost island, to watch

your palm trees swaying, with the sun on my face, carrying

me back, through my childhood hallways. Even decorated

differently, they will be the same. They will bring back

memories of my stolen youth and let me relive again:


When Debi taught me how to iron shirts, collar

first, systematically, while I taught her English;

so that I would be able to help Mami en el Norte,

and she could visit and make sure I ironed correctly.


When Willy sleepwalked outside, thinking he

was in the lavatory, watering the plants,

and being discovered by Monino the chauffeur

who was coming home from a date;


When Abu Santos came to get me from my second

miserable day at school, telling my mother

I would go the next day, and then buying me dulces

so I would stop crying;


When Lilliam and I hung sheets from the ceiling,

charging admission for our performances,

using the money to buy pure sugar cane

and sucking it until our teeth grew tired

of its pure sweetness;


When I walk down those hallways again, I will go

slowly, sliding my fingers over the rough wood, fingers

that now will not fit into the delicately carved crevices;

and I will cry, letting grief-racked sobs overtake my body;

sliding down against the wall until I hit the floor, mourning

the loss of my homeland.

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