Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Listen

Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Listen

Article excerpt

Today, through the walls of the basement room

in which I sit, willing myself to write,

I hear a leaf blower's come and go,

and above its swinging hum and roar, a Spanish song

sung in the tempo of laden arms in motion.

The words come to me in rhythmic gasps

that mimic passion, breaking through

the noise of an engine

that wants to push away

into soggy piles at curbside,

el amor, la vida, la tristeza.

I think of the Spanish love songs

I heard in my childhood,

mostly played by my mother

on the portable turntable she'd sometimes carry

into her room at bedtime. Our walls

were porous, made of the thin plaster

of transient homes, and her off-key singing along

to the broken-hearted hymns of her youth,

entered my room through keyholes and cracks,

smoke and scent of sadness, that clung

to my skin, and stayed with me.

Today, the leafblower's unknowing serenade

reminds me that I am here to listen.

I stop trying to make things up on my screen.

I want to sit still and think

about canciones de amor. For who am I,

if not the one who waits to hear the fragment

of a love song through the wall,

a forgotten melody rising

over the engine's noise? …

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