Along with pieces called “breathtaking” by Naomi Shihab Nye, these poems twirl their skirts as they explore bi-cultural identity, growing up, a young mother’s struggles, and the limits of language. Half Latina and half Anglo, the speaker worries about “black-topped boys with butterscotch skin” who whistle at her, but loves how flowers “explode into curls of crepe.”
Watching Two-Year-Old Twins Eat Watermelon
It is something like water
spilling over a brim,
like sunlight dripping
between leaves; it is like
giggling, or hearing tiny bells,
eyes blinking in the bright holiness of now.
Those in full sun
have cracked open
their round cases and flounced out
their ruffles, hot pink vestidos.
They sway under el sol
whole bunches! and unfurl their fiesta frills
from June to September.
We watch their salsas, their boleros,
their cha chas. Mira! my aunt shouts
every time we pass. And every time we pass,
they bob and curtsey, they twirl
their sizzling fringe.
This was my introduction to passion:
flowers, the way they explode
into curls of crepe, and my aunt,
the way she soul-sings the old canciones,
right through drought, through these long,
tangled days after the accident,
sometimes through clenched teeth.
This is what I knew of spirit,
espíritu, that molten stream,
before I ever wrote a poem,
before it turned me inside-out,
like the blossoms.