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Image by Jonathan Lampel

Homesick (Poem)

2006

His skin is the color of the dirt in the mountains where I grew up.
He wears a guayabera and a Panama hat in the steaming heat.
He dances to the old ballads on the radio in my abuela's house.
He dances salsa with a firm hand on my waist, footsteps graceful.


His Spanish is smooth like the cigars he smokes, the rum he drinks.
He watches every woman walk down the street, following her curves.
He plays dominoes with nimble fingers, boastful chatter and other men.
He whispers in my ear like I am the only woman on the island.


He trails fingers across my back like a warm current in the seas.
He asks me to get him a beer in a way that I cannot refuse.
He drinks Medalla while turning the spit with the roasting pork.
His eyes are dark, coffee without milk, brown like morcillas.


He speaks lies like they are the truth, convincing me easily.
He is the patron of cane fields, coffee crops, tobacco plants.
His grandmother was from Africa, his grandfather from Spain.
He promises he would be slow and good and like no other man.


His body is warm against me, like sun-baked rocks on the beach.
He knows her, this island, as I do, as motherland, home, seduction.
Between his arms, I feel her touch and am unable to let go.
She calls to me from his lips, beckons me into her tropic spell.


He goes home to his wife, his sons, his dinner of rice and beans.
He smells of all these things, a cologne of memory, a temptation
of the past, an island I miss, the scent of homesickness.

Homesick (Poem): Work
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