|Oct/Nov 2003 • Poetry • Special Feature|
Waiting for the Bloom
I planted sadness in my backyard, and I'm waiting
for it to bloom. Abuelita taught me to water and water
until the soil coughs. She said Spain knew what it was
like to suffocate, and Franco would sit up in his grave
if anyone was allowed to be happy. It was up to me to render
America heartbroken because of what it has done to her.
I've been watching that soil with binoculars because you're not
supposed to get closer than ten feet. Sadness lets off fumes
that smell of mint but are lethal nonetheless. She pointed this out
before sadness shut off the blood to her brain, and she drooled,
"You must bring Prince Juan a bouquet of your prettiest sadness."
Then she died, shrouded in sadness so pungent my eyes watered.
When I flew to Spain with Prince Juan's bouquet of tristeza
mas bonita, I visited Franco's grave at Valle de Los Caídos.
I crawled on top of it to absorb sadness, to learn how it had felt
for Abuelita to leave her familia in Spain for a lover who later left her.
Sadness plays in stereo, Abuelita told me. Just listen to the layers,
the violins separate from the voices. You leave. Then you are left.
Summer days are passing quickly, and I'm still waiting for the bloom.
The daffodils shine their yellow faces, my yellow cat purrs in
my sunburned arms, and I'm ashamed to be happy.