(White) Washed up from Cuba.
By: rose cervantes
My skin cells came from Cuban soil.
My skin is made up of white eggshells
And conch shells.
My family swam to Key West with their lives on their backs,
And my life sleeping in their bellies.
But I do not know how to walk.
Please do not watch me stumble.
This skin has never fit me right.
It sizzles under the sun and next to the equator.
Five generations of Cubanos, mi familia, transplanted to
A small 4 by 1.5-mile island.
I crawl on coral cobblestones
yet I can’t escape my name.
Cervantes cousins face to face under a palm tree,
decades lived apart,
how can we make up for that lost time?
We don’t hug hello and they tell me
“You have the Cervantes eyes.”
If I could go back,
I would ask you to dinner.
I would dance Salsa with you in the sand at Smathers’ beach.
I would paint for you.
I would paint about you.
“How’s your dad”
If I wasn’t labeled
“too white, too gringa”
maybe I’d know.
What part did I take in planning my exile?
I studied French in school, instead of Spanish,
To push a family I never knew away.
Maybe if I went back - if I could speak Spanish - and if my skin didn’t sunburn,
My father would call me on my birthday.
I wouldn’t get sad when I’m cooking in an empty kitchen.
I have thrown away my abeula’s stomach
Which is to say
I have stopped feeding her heart.
Would she banish me now that I am a vegetarian?
What would she do if I sat at the table in her kitchen hugged by green window shutters
pushed away a plate of her
Arroz Con Pollo.
Nana, how is my pronunciation?