This time of year
when stringed lights twinkle
we remember home—
like la terraza
where comete lo todo was law
and when summers were Nintendo seminars;
merienda at three
and that awful punishment,
which we all endured
of sitting in the living room watching telenovelas.
A kiss on the cheek hello, and a kiss for adios,
and those old people in our lives:
the sentinels of our divertimento—
so powerful in Spanish.
I can sit here,
three-thousand miles from home,
remembering the day they assigned me
my white drinking mug,
not like a prisoner in a Cuban jail,
but like a rite of passage in a sacred tribe;
a foundation laid by our mayores mayores,
a home built where there was previously none—
and tell me this;
how can we even begin
to carry on this tradition?
Raul Palma’s work has appeared in Saw Palm and 34th Parallel. He was the winner of the 2012 Soul-Making Keats, Mary Mackey Short Story contest and a three-time finalist in Glimmer Train contests. He lives in Nebraska.