Volume 14:4, Fall 2013
Prose Poem Issue
The knocking in my head was cooked in the womb. (Mississippi folks say that the remedy for madness in a child is caused by the mothers backchat).John Fitzgerald Kennedys brain blasted from behind the week my mothers mother left her newborn shielded from Chicago winter beside a west side dumpster. (The poor girl couldnt bear the chatter of her family). The doctor asks whether it runs in the family. Is losing your mind a family heirloom? I will answer, I dont know. I hope that it is a consolation for survival.
The woman on the corner sells trinkets. Her name is Maria. Maria Guadalupe Rivera (named for Maria, her great-grandmother, a negrita slave woman who worshipped Oshun or as Oshun is known to Catholics, Santa Maria de la Caridad)
The stoops on this block are marked by passages better left unremembered or reimagined. The stoops are filled with many myths of passage from the islands. Maria has always said that it was raining the day she left Cuba, it was in fact sunny. There was no fogged cloak in which she escaped under. Her journey was marked by the sun.
English has no words for that feeling between love and mere attraction. In Spanish, it is simply querer, a love less strong. Whatever that word may be, that is how she felt when she reached Miami, the first stop on her journey to New York. Maria did not struggle to find that word for Jose, her intended. Instead, it was for Juanita, but those things were not talked about then
Maria is also known as Abuela. Abuela who prays the rosary and fasts on holidays. She is a woman who was known to be as fertile as cabao. It was the Taino who named the island before Cristobol Colon. Caobana did not roll off of Spanish tongues like cuba.
On the islands, the name for women who cared for each other has been lost to time. Sometimes, Maria called Juanita mi cielo, my sky.
The bus has no marked point of departure (or for that matter, entry). It simply leaves when it decides to and hopefully you are on board. Jose has long passed. Maria, who prays the rosary, is going to Miami.
There is no English word for lost love. Or perhaps the word is regret. To love with everything even through mere pressed ink, paper, envelopes and stamps is amar in Spanish. There are decades of letters between Maria (who prays the rosary) and Juanita. Juanita (who pours libations on the altar of Shango) lives near the beach.
For Maria, who once mourned midnight dreams, there is a word for love.
Diamond Janese Sharp is a DC-based poet and writer originally from Chicago. She has performed at Chicago's Stage 773 and her work has been featured on Chicago Public Radio and published in the Wellesley Review, Feministing, Zora Magazine, Say What Magazine, the Chicago Reader and Bop, Strut, and Dance: A Post-Blues Form for New Generations, a forthcoming anthology edited by Tara Betts and Afaa Weaver.