She never saw herself in him
except when they laughed
at the names of cities
they will never visit
Sheboygan, Humptulips, Wallula.
Or when they shared
the commonalities of intangible pain
the realities of elegies.
They’d recite favorite last lines
of poets absent from the canon:
Jackson, Ayala, de Burgos.
And poets so sanitized
they’d write spontaneous odes
only in couplets.
Their cities I’ve never seen banking on pounding feet.
Eclipsed by enterprise and collapsing infrastructure.
Gentle evenings filled with polemics
about the magic number
of revisions it takes before a poem
is deemed complete.
Undeserving, he answered.
When she asked him the cliché question,
“What word best describes you?”
Carefully, like a fortuneteller opening a palm,
he approached her ear
with his lips stopping
at her earlobe.
Perhaps the poets were right,
are reminders of survival
like the two dark marks between
my index and middle finger
left over from chain smoking Saturdays
when I ponder the existence of a god,
cancer, the importance of taxes, democracy,
Nutella, jeans, cotton underwear, public transportation,
the Pantone color wheel, simple words like happiness
or no, a smile opening a face.
Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, but proudly raised in the Bronx. Her two books of poetry, Unfinished Portrait and Ascension, have been published by Tia Chucha Press. She is a CantoMundo fellow. Some of her latest work can be read in Entropy Magazine, Coiled Serpent, Pilgrimage Magazine, and a forthcoming anthology of Afro-Latino poetry titled ¡Manteca! published by Arte Público Press. Currently, she lives in the Los Angeles area with her three children.