from Mesa Blanca

Victor Hernández Cruz

copyright ©2001 Victor Hernández Cruz

This paper which was a tree
Is crying for its leaves
That’s the route of your mind
To dance its branches,
For that canopy red flower
Of the Antilles,
So high up in air spirit,
Flowing right through that bark,
A water shaft,
A city of bamboos
Liquefied fructus,
Humid swamp for that
Night frog,
To sing without rest
Till the roosters brush their
Beaks with the first
Arriving morning light.

The joyful noise of the night
What might be coming from lips,
Or the rubbing of legs
The full harmonic tropical berserk
Begging for love
In abundance
Not one thousand
But one thousand and one
Lights of cucubanos,
Morse-coding lovers,
That come down,
Meow not now
Of the cats –

For that’s the flavor,
Within the opening of the
Two mountains,
A glance following the
That goes to fish its memories,
Scratched one next to the other
Like the grooves of shells,

To think that no one believes
We are here.
The past in the smoke of the cigar,
Bring the future in-formation.

Notes on the Poem

This vibrant slice of poetry from "Mesa Blanca" by Victor Hernandez Cruz brims with lush, beautiful images, but has a distinct quality of yearning to it. How has Cruz created this bittersweet undercurrent? These four stanzas excerpted from the longer "Mesa Blanca" poem intermingle elements from the natural world with human desires and emotions. "This paper which was a tree Is crying for its leaves" is a heartwrenching start to a journey wherein "the route of your mind" wends through plant and animal encounters culminating in the lovely and wistful "... roosters brush their Beaks with the first Arriving morning light." While "the ... noise of the night" is "joyful", it has clearly kept the subject of the poem sleepless and agitated - perhaps not entirely unpleasantly so, but agitated nonetheless. The phrase "Morse-coding lovers" seems to capture particularly well an edginess induced by all kinds of sensory overload. Contrasting references to the ephemeral and the enduring seem to add to this unsettled feeling. A glance is fleeting, memories could be similarly so, cigar smoke wafts away almost before one can register it ... but mountains and grooves in shells convey longevity. Stir into this a smattering of rueful wordplay - "Meow not now" and "future in-formation" - and it seems that the subject of the poem, while taking in beauty, is uneasy about something. Is it that amidst all this splendour, there is this doubt ... "To think that no one believes We are here."

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