Una linda tarde

A warm plate of rice and beans
takes me back to those restless nights
beneath flamboyant meadows,
and trees dressed in shadows
shared breaths with my own.

Lush glasses of strawberry lemonade
turn into photographies of sunbathing days.
Pumpkins and plantains galore
turned cooks into illusionists.
Skillets and pans worked their magic,
bringing forth to our enticing lovers:
tostones, amarillos, barriguitas de vieja,
words not said, but savored.

Starry nights in el campo were paintings framed by my window.
Jade mountains contended with dim street lights from afar.
And I watched with amazement
on my Mami’s lap
as the rain made love to the wind.

Celia M. Ayala Lugo

Caution

I was a girl who strived to dream.
Believed the world was how they told me:
Safe. Good. Peaceful.
Rested on good and bad.
I was told smiling wins the world.
The world taught me something else.

I was a teenager stumbling herself
while climbing staircases.
Girls are no longer playing Barbies, but guys’ hearts.
Wearing my coils attracted laughter, not eyes,
had to silence my African blood to survive.

I am a woman fighting against the world.
Somehow, the world is letting me win.
I was told knowledge wins the world.
Love taught me something else.

The smarter I get, the more intimidating I seem.
They seek intelligence, but when facing it, they pull apart.
They withstand injustice and inequality,
Yet repel a woman longing to fight on their side

Celia M. Ayala Lugo