a narrative poem — distance part 1

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Photo by Jihao Tan on Unsplash

1990s. My skin sticks to the hot leather
in the truck. The seat belt burns
my thigh. I find dimes between
the folds. Hues of purple from tinted
windows paint my dimples and teeth.
Fish hooks on the dash, cookie
crumbs on the mat. My sister’s head
sways side to side from each bump
the road makes. I wonder
if she’s thinking what I am.
What does Ray want us to see here?
All I know is the banana leaves
are brighter, the hills look like pyramids,
this mute rolling stone boy
is rushing through tunnels.

The roof of my mouth burns
on the pinchos de pollo. Marí
and her friends spit out
seeds, tobacco. An older boy
stares at the way my shoulders
roll with the music. His skin tone
looks like the outside
of a coconut. Tough and dark
and frayed with stories to tell. …

a poem

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

You got annoyed with the way
I read poetry. Slow. Many
breaks. To you — too emotional.
You asked me to read Persimmons
differently, as a character, not
my own voice. A way to
entertain you.

Amerie never called. You
told me to stop writing and
learn something. People only
respect others for what they
know. I said people can respect
me for how I make them feel,
too. Another volcano
in the room. Broken doorknobs.

You asked me to not share
my words or deep memories
of my Pop. They made you feel
uncomfortable. …

a narrative poem

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Photo by Alex Plesovskich on Unsplash

I imagine the sun tastes
like guava. Warm with a hint
of sweetness. Not in a sweet way
someone shows love. More so how
my Abuelo did.

He taught me how to tend
to the fruit, how to boil
and defeather chickens, hold
a knife without cutting
my hands. Once while picking
from trees, I took
an Elephant Ear leaf, the one
by the long stairs that led
to the outside market, and tried
to slide down. He firmly grabbed
my wrist, helped me stand up,
wiped the dirt off my palms.
I watched all
the guavas somersault
down each step, into sand. I heard
nothing from his mouth, felt
everything from his actions. …

a free verse poem

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Photo by Greg Becker on Unsplash

I am not a calm thing
and far from vibrant. Known
to swallow boats whole.
Vast enough to keep the deep
of my core unknown.

Last May, you replaced
me with an opposing current.
Streams crashed. Whirlpools
formed. I said don’t
bring your force near me
anymore. Yet, the truth is

when you sneak
out in the morning, I miss
your gravity keeping
my tides low.
It’s as if I don’t know
how to navigate myself
without you.

Sprawled body on sand. Your
light comes in at midnight
and we make waves.

a poem

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Photo by Emre Gencer on Unsplash

She smiled at the photo and red roses
on her windshield, the starbursts inside
her car. A wider grin when I snuck up
from behind. I told her I left
for a family reunion the night before
and I wouldn’t see her for a week.
Rather, I stayed to pick
freshly bloomed flowers,
get her favorite candy,
feel her cheek
on my cheek.

We went hiking with Snow,
walked to the top of the trail.
You laughed at me
for guzzling down water,
swatting gnats in the air.
I laughed at you
for being too bashful
to kiss me in the open.
We daydreamed about living
in a country home. Letting Snow
roam free in our big yard. …


Ell Benjamin

Escritora. All things life, moments, personal growth.

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