“empresa del bailando” or “trash” you can take your pick? empress of the dance? or writing that belongs in the trash?

At the colmado, no one asks where you are from — the sun beats down heavy island love.

Can you hear the drums? In the music where you

two step,

and dip.

Dancing is a prerequisite to all loving in this country. You’ve never seen people dance

so much.

so hard.

One arm wrapped tight around your waist. Looking up

at a full face. You move your hips in unison. You can feel him, his muscles that tighten when the bolero becomes

Merengue.

and Faster.

Laughter.

When your feet get tangled up and when you trip, he is right there

to steady your movement. Protective, firm grip,

Pretty white teeth with a little space that makes the whistle

shrill.

He calls to the dog with paws on the chair, sniffing around the tables

distraction from plates full of pollo y cerdo.

A man who is not afraid to smile is

sacred.

You watch his eyes change color in the sunlight. From brown to dark hazel. The dimple and the wink as he walks away —

he is a people poet, he reminds me when I’m writing. So passionate it is free. Charge a fee. I will read for you only. Poeta de la calle. Silent rebellion.

Dancing laughter.

Escribalo. He says to me.

Tu eres mio. Solamente.

Come with me,

with cups on the brew, he hands one to you, whispers that you look radiant in that dress

covered. Your brown skin shimmering. your nose, a bit red.

Neither of you burn in caribbean sunlight.

Sunshine lightens your hair as your skin grows a darker mocha.

Tanned. Your hair is full. There is no pulling away at the edges,

bald eagle.

Here

you are a hummingbird. Delicate and strong. Flying fast, past

tropical blues.

And jazz

to get to the hip hop beat in the merengue. A steady rhythm that does not lose itself to a

heroin haze, a line of coca you’ve never sniffed.

Steady and consistent. Then flips it,

On time.

This colmado is painted a baby blue. With pink and yellow shutters, bright colors. A cousin hands you her child. A cat meows and runs from the dog. The music gets louder and her song is on.

She wants to dance with

her man.

The baby grabs your face. She is drool smiling, trying to squish your puckered lips when you make them

into fish.

How good you are at this. How you walk and pat her back when the music switches,

startling her. Her scream held and building up the steam for the

shattering. Her little body trembling.

Him laughing

“coming!”

Like he’s discussing food dropped by UN choppers 150 miles away.

Over the border.

But it never comes.

You distract her with beauty

“Mira!” you are pointing.

There is a butterfly in this country of mariposas

big and multicolored. It looks like it has been

Painted by a lover.

She stares, looks at you, points. The scream turns to a whimper and then “mio mio mio!”, while you sit back down and play with her curls. They remind you of yours at this age, light and fluffly.

Bouncy

when she moves her head.

Her mom comes back again, “gracia’ hermana”, she needed that.

And he is standing, his hand extended. You are ready,

to be wrapped in his arms,

looking up,

more smiling when he lifts you, and dips you.

You will walk home on a cloud.

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