by Mireya Perez Bustillo

Under the portals where scribes personalized
model letters to hearts and dutiful ones to mothers
near the entrance of the fortress within thickness of walled city
when presidents were poets el Bodegón gathered
el tuerto Luis, el cojo Manuel and abuelo to flail
in rhyming matches at Castilian sentimentality
writing odes to old shoes, sending shirts to la República
joining Neruda to cry at shelled Madrid.
Downing dark tintos dampness staining white linen,
smudging cuffs and manuscripts, wiring nerves, bulging eyes,
feverish, he wrote sleeplessness forfeiting judgeship,
piling curling onionskins in rented room in Plaza de los Coches
leaving abuela, niños, casa in the foothill of the monastery
Where some liberated Kongos once worshipped a golden she goat.
To take the cure, no one ever talked about, he left her
alone except for the hands that could turn string to lace
and patio fruit to cocadas and tamarind balls
turning garage to a tienda, abuela stopped tongues
showing a señora could work.
Sixty years later in this square near the arch
I know she would delight in a cherry cheesecake
attentive to the display and the conduct of the business,
while abuelo blooming from the rest
would nurse a cappuccino as he constructed
an ode to a recycling bin.

Mireya Perez-Bustillo writes poetry and fiction in Spanish and English. Her poetry appears in MOM’s EGG; Caribbean Review; Americas Review; Dinner with the Muse, IRP Voices, among others. Her novel, Back to El Dorado (Floricanto Press,2020), a Latina coming-of-age story, is available on Barnes and Noble and Amazon sites.