a gift for Love

January 7, 2012

i’ve been shopping
searching in all places
for the perfect gift
to give Love.

the bookstore shelves
stacked with titles
on how to,
fairtytales,
recovering love…

i knew Love
didn’t need to know
what it has endured
throughout its lifetime.

thought perhaps
if i bought it something
intimate, i could dress her
in sexiness.
but Love knows
that victoria doesn’t know
the real secret
has nothing
to do with the lingerie.

so, on i went.
entered little shops
with trinkets and pendants
but nothing stood out.

thought about feeding
it the most decadent chocolates
but Love has always been sweet enough.

suddenly…
there it was,
the perfect gift.

i wanted something
that looked classy. a bit rustic.
something… that would tell it
what my words have yet to express.

so i bought Love a watch.

with the hopes that it
would finally arrive
precisely.
and.
perfectly.
on.
time.

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three kings day magic

January 6, 2012

the night before,
she stepped out the house
her favorite cousin
holding her hand.
she filled a shoe box with grass
placed it under her bed.

her wishes all her own.

she had the faith
only a six-year-old
would have:
complete trust.

innocence
nestled in her heart.
her body filled with excitement.
her little eyes didn’t want to shut.

morning always came gently
on that day…

her heart’s beat
interrupting the stillness
of the morning
she ran to the living room.

live with gifts.

everyone waiting for her.

her smile
painted smiles
on the faces of everyone watching her…

she was surrounded.
wrapped tightly
in the safety of Love.

…but something was missing.

she was very appreciative of all the gifts
the kings had brought… but wondered why
that gift she wanted most was nowhere
to be seen. after all, she trusted, completely.
she believed.

maybe they’d forgotten… maybe.
she thought, what if she didn’t specify
the importance of that one gift?
maybe she should’ve only asked for that.
but it was number one of the list.

she held her dolls. silently thinking
about all of this.
her Titi says, “can you go out back and get
a box in the back room?”

as the little girl entered the back room
her face lit up. her heart raced.
she knew it!
she knew they could not have forgotten
she knew they were kings (three of them)
who made magic happen all around the world.

there it was…
shiny. perfect. with a red bow
on the basket.
exactly what she wanted.

no childhood gift before or after that day
was able to evoke the emotion
of that morning.

she cried.
the ones who Love her laughed.
asking her why.

and with the only innocence of a six year-old
she responded, “they knew i needed this more than anything.”

laughter erupted.

this was her ride to freedom.
this was the way to travel to her friend’s home
down the street… filling the basket
with imagination… she could even get to new york
if she peddled long enough.

on january 6, 1986
the joy that filled
her innocent heart that morning
was so magical,
it still lives in her smile
twenty-six years later.

best childhood gift ever

locksmith

January 6, 2012

i wish
i wasn’t born
a poet.

instead,
i would’ve
liked to have been
a locksmith.

my entire existence
would be dedicated to
the art of making
and defeating locks.

i’d lock up my sentiments.
secure them in a place
where they’d never be hurt.
no key. just a combination
of infinite numbers written
in braille ’cause Love is blind
and only it would know
how to unlock me.

i’d work on deciphering
combinations.
i’d learn to unlock
fears and insecurities.
i’d work on bringing light
to the darkness of a vaulted
soul and free it from itself.

but i am just a poet
whose safe
is a pen and paper
that unlocks at the simple
turn of a connection.

¿que ganabas?

January 6, 2012

¿cual fue tu intención
al besarme,
si no intentabas intentar
algo mas que una aventura?

dígame.

¿porque te acercaste
tan tiernamente
besando el temor
de mis labios?

¿que ganabas?

cuantos besos
mal gastados
en un fin de semana
fugaz.

y yo
de idiota
escribiendo
poesía en tu piel.

¿porque será quel poeta
siempre encuentra musa
agridulce en un mismo ser?

la próxima
que me bese
tendra que hacer maromas
imposibles para ganarse
tan solo un roce
de la piel que arropa
mis labios.
tendrá ella que ser maga
para hacer desaparecer
desconfianza.

los besos no se dan por dar.
se dan con intencion
de dar mas que un
cuerpo mortal.

no prostituyan besos.
no hagan del cariño una ramera
que se ofrece para satisfacer
la carne, mientras deja el alma hambrienta.

el beso se da con intención honesta

…o no se da.

“bendicion”

it is the first and last word
Puerto Rican and Dominican children (young and old)
say to their elders (i am uncertain if it’s true
of other Latin American countries).
it is said to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents,
or any other elder (not necessarily blood related).

it’s an “obligatory” salute. a sign of respect.

it is to me, one of the sweetest words.

the response is even sweeter:

“Dios te bendiga”
“Dios te cuide”
“Santa”
“Dios te acompañe”
“Dios te haga una muchachita buena”

and it is usually followed by
whatever descriptive affection
they have for you:

“mi hija.
mi santa.
negrita.
mi amor.
mi cielo.
mi reina.
cabezona (my uncle’s favorite).”

at the sound of it
i am overwhelmed
by their Love.

it is never said in anger.
but even if angry, the blessing is
always given.

i am constantly making sure
my nieces and nephews
say it to me. i encourage my siblings
and cousins to make sure their children
do not forget.

it is the blessing that has kept us safe
even in harms way. it is the blessing that heals
us when we’re ailing. it is the blessing that lifts
our sad spirits.

yesterday, i sat at the dentist’s office,
a young woman walks in and sees her aunt.
smiling she says, “bendicion mi tia bella.”
to which her aunt responds, “ay mi querida sobrina
dios te me bendiga. que gusto verte.”

i smiled.

those words hold so much power
in my life.
i know when the elders in my family
pass on… it is the sound of this blessing
in their voice that i will miss most.
i know it is one of the many words
i will miss out of my parents’ mouth.

bendicion.

it is the word you say to receive their blessing
and God’s protection. its history is biblical,
but it is spiritual at its core.

to me… it’s the shield of Love
my elders keep me wrapped in.