La Cama Tiene Candela, or The Bed Is on Fire 1

Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi

Would you believe me if I told you
                she loved me, she loved me even
                                with perejil on her breath. She said,
                                                I was her garden of Hibiscus,
                                                of Bayahibe Roses. She kissed
                                my forehead. A bell was ringing.
                A light flickered and in it, our arms:
the same deep brown like wet earth
cradling the Massacre River.
                Would you believe me if I told you
                                she slept beside me every night
                                                since gliding her finger across
                                                my teeth to memorize my smile?
                                The landscape cloaked in plum
                and restless but she'd say sleeping
with me was like swaying in tall grass,
under the moon-sun, pelicans preening
                nearby. She professed she loved me
                                tonight, tomorrow night, yesterday too,
                                                over and over the lap of jade waves.
                                                Come, she'd say, into this field
                                of soft sea grass perfumed with charcoal,
                perfumed with rosemary, a row
of palms for shade. Believe a love
like this is possible. That I could
                follow music in her voice beside
                                a drumming in mine. That my sugar
                                                tamed the salt of her words. To sleep,
                                                she begged, beside the only person
                                she ever loved. She said this with
                perejil rolling off her tongue,
a tongue promising to gift me
cetaceans, jellyfish-scarves,
                starfish rings, sometimes blood.
                                A tongue that convinced me: sleep is
                                                a gentle swing, gentle back and forth,
                                                a tangle of our toes, tangle
                                of fingers, tangle of snakebirds
                in borderless places we'd played before.
Believe me, we rewrote the story
of our island. We laughed in bed,
                debating if we were two wings
                                from the same bird, or the bird itself?2

Notes

1. Bachata song by Robin Cariño.
2. Image and concept from Manuel Rueda's "Cantos de la frontera" (Songs from the Border), from La criatura terrestre (The Land-Being) (1963).

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Photo:
Seshu Badrinath

Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi is a poet, comparatist, and Caribbeanist. Her poetry collection, Love Letter to an Afterlife (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), was a finalist for the 2019 International Latino Book Awards (Best Poetry Book) and the 2019 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Recently, her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Caribbean Writer, New Letters, The New York Times Magazine, and Wasafiri. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University. She teaches literature at the University of Hartford.

Nov/Dec 2020

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Editor
Elizabeth Scanlon

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