Memories of a man from Corona


His lips the flesh of a plum,

hair springy black broccoli.

Not a teacher, not my lover, a sort of friend.

In his 30s and I only sixteen.

His eyes look at me hungry and wanting.


He calls me his, Spanish Nightingale, and I call him

by his name. My name swooshes in his mouth

as if tasting sweet wine.


He is enamored with my poetry but teaches me

little about the art of writing.

He teaches me other things instead ¾

How to eat Manhattan clam chowder at

the underground Oyster Bar in Grand Central and

how to get to 125th Street in Harlem alone, without being afraid.


He teaches me how to stay rooted in my roots while learning about his.

How to listen for the music the L makes as it passes my open windows,

to search for stars in an onyx city sky in August,

and to love the smell of books, especially old ones.


More: The taste of a grown man’s lips. How to listen to

Billie Holiday and jazz with my eyes closed, how to tell which is

my heart beat as I am pressed against him; how to find my way home

from his house and back again.


He tells me that when I grow up, we’ll have an office with

matching desks where we’ll write, drink wine

and make love (He says he is going to divorce his wife for me).

Dreams of running his fingers through my long, thick, curly hair,

but I am afraid his fingers will tangle and I’d have to take him home.


I learn how a man could love a woman’s poetry

although he can’t have her¾ maybe.


I can only teach him how to roll a Spanish R.

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