Editors' Pick

Dos Generaciones / Two Generations

The jibaro builds his home
on a mountainside
the flamboyan adds its red
to the view.
The spaces between the slats
allow the music
of the pitirre’s call
to enter the home
and adds to the quiquiriqui
of the rooster that struts
his ownership of morning.
The jibaro walks the mountain
sees that it is beautiful
and says, “This is enough.”

The jibaro’s children are born
into this wooden home
Into this red flowering,
into this chorus of bird calls
into the mornings
that were built
by the jibaro’s labor
and this is enough.

In town the cement houses
sit, solid and seemingly untouched
by the wind that sometimes pushes against
the wooden exterior of the jibaro’s mountainside home.
He steps onto the cold surface
of a floor that will not dirty his feet,
He touches the roughness
of walls that leave no room
for wind or rain,
or the hillsides song to enter,

“This is better,” he says,
as he looks to the left and to the right
and compares the walls
and the roof
and the floor,
but does not listen for the music
that is missing.
“This is better,” he says.
“This will be enough.”

The jibaro’s children grow
knowing only that which the windows
of a cement home
placed at the end of a dead-end street
will allow in,
knowing only that which
is imported into the home,
not pulled from the earth around it
or picked from the trees that surround it.
They have no ties to this.
They are not rooted here.

They leave.
Jump on planes and boats
find their way,
away from what is enough.
They have seen the pictures
of the city
where the rooftops
offer a place to stand
in your finery
and be sent home, more
than you were
when seated on the balcon
of the cement house
that was enough
for mama and papa.

They work,
hands learning only the movement
necessary to produce
the things they cannot afford,
making only enough
to consume what they
are told is beautiful,
what they are told they need
to own, to be
than the wooden house
or the cement house.

They buy
to be more.
They want more
to be more
and to be this,
they need more
than their neighbor
to the right
or the left.

This becomes the song they dance to
but even though they purchased the notes
they don’t own the music,
so they half mambo to work
to make the music
that others composed,
off key renditions
of standards
that people will consume


Life becomes a gathering
of the unnecessary,
a wanting that does not speak of need
but leaves everyone needing
except for those who control the making,
control the work
of María and José
and Carlos and Juana.

Those whose hands do not know
the repetition
[no break]
of a task that produces,
the stitches María’s hands
place evenly across a garment,
the pounding of the hammer
José wields as he places each nail
into the boards that support the home
he will never live in.

These belong to them
and they will gather
what is produced
and it will be


Let’s go back
to the wooden house.
Remember when that was enough,
when the eye of the jibaro
caught only the color of the flamboyan?
Remember when the rooster
was the only one who claimed
the ownership of morning?


Let’s go back
imagine a different song,
make the dance
one where everybody can learn the steps,
the music one that each of the jibaro’s children
contributes a note to,
where they see the beauty
in each other’s movements.
Where what is mine,
and what is yours,
and what is theirs,
blends into a melody
that we all take the time to listen to
and forces us into a dance
that makes want unneeded
and makes what is needed
a thing that is never wanted for.



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