Volume Three, Issue 4

Maple Street

Kadiri Vaquer Fernández


We are so small
we don’t even know how
to spell our names

daddy is playing that record
the one that makes him travel
eyes fixed like dice for hours

when daddy’s brother comes to visit
we shake hands like toy soldiers
and get out of their sight

we make-believe we’re mimes
rehearsing in a fish tank

but daddy is tired now and
the itsy
             crawls up
   the water

his fingers trace webs
between our thighs


         the rain?

stacked up against each other
like puppets we take turns
to dream

but the itsy
             bitsy spider
spout again.


A daddy-long-legs near the lava lamp
reminds me of her short hair,
her crooked teeth,
and the stained T-shirt
I wore under my brother’s jersey
the day we buried
another girl’s shoes
in the sand.

We said nothing
when she came back
with her big sister.

We said nothing
when our mothers
called us from the same porch
that night.

No one ever knew
we pretended to sleep midday
just to lie holding hands
under a yellow blanket.


This picture brought you home,
her arm around you
when you were still a child,

bangs neatly trimmed above
your eyebrows
the way she liked them,

you never knew what to do with your hands,
it was not the smile that concerned you
it was the stillness

the quick embrace of others
posing to be shot
by an invisible bullet.


  Every Sunday we went to visit his father,
the old man was polite and bald,
he had a spice garden
where I tiptoed,
he had a table with wobbling chairs

the boys sat in the other room,
I liked to stay close
to see him pull me to his lap.

I enjoyed his heavy fingers
holding onto my hip,
his nervous knee
rising up and falling down.

  They spoke of people
we never saw.

He seemed happy
with his black coffee
and his pack of Winstons

until the day he tied a rope to his neck.


   Like all children I played dead
quiet and still

hands folded together over my chest

   in the summer we drank lemonade
and gathered worms

into a can.

   When winter returned he lined up the boys
sledge  hammers  axes   logs

   hide and seek in the cellar
where we found a red light shrine

with spread out models from magazines.

   There was no love between us

his beard his rifle the dead deer for breakfast.

Kadiri Vaquer Fernández: "I am a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and educator. I hold a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, a MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from New York Uuniversity, and a PhD in Spanish with a minor in Portuguese from Vanderbilt University. My research interests include cultural studies, gender and queer theory, disidentification practices and postcolonial studies. I have published Andamiaje (Ediciones Callejón, 2013) and my second collection of poetry, Ritos de pasaje, is forthcoming with La Secta de los Perros."

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