V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





The artists painting Cuba from memory
or from photographs, from family stories
of the exodus, from dreams, know
their bloodlines are not clear.  The work
is mongrel, neither Cuban nor American.

They paint masks, figures floating, palm
trees set on pedestals.  They sculpt women
locked in birth.  What they want is a particular
place.  What they find is borrowed space.
In hand-colored gelatin silver prints or wood

with oil and gold leaf or oil on linen or on
masonite or on carved locust bark, they discover
new rooms, dream landscapes, regions of origin
as small as phone-booths, as expansive as cane
fields, rented, tenanted, temporary.

—Interprete mi silencio—, one says.
They are like poets scratching out their
metaphors sideways on pieces of lined paper,
crossgrain, drafting possibilities,
unsettled, undecided.

These artists ask and never receive replies,
remember without mementos, feel without touching.
They have heard of the royal palm, seventy feet tall
and seek its landscape.  How odd its trunk
is almost hollow, its roots mere threads.

© by Jill Peláez Baumgaertner


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