Holiday Dinner after Abuelo
Tio VJ decrees two maduros per person.
Lisa cracks where do you think we are, Cuba?
Mom and I can’t remember when or why
she first nicknamed me Wuemba, or Wuembalele.
We poll opinion till VJ suggests Mayellé was the source.
Everyone laughs but Mayellé,
the Black doll clad in blue and white tartan
seated in a rocking chair one room away.
Inside her lives a spirit that’s protected Mom since birth.
Before her stands a water glass offering.
Abuela reminds us of her nephew
Fernando, my fruity forefather,
who arrived in America with her in the 50s.
His parents took him to a doctor
to fix him with hormone shots.
They never accepted it.
These days all talks wind toward Santería.
We cousins, Henry, Michael, Ashley,
Calvin, Kyle, Zayjay, Vivi, Alexa,
Having spoken to a santera, Mom insists
her father’s spirit remains stuck
between earth and heaven.
Tia Mari says another santera believes he’s in heaven.
Kyle Lopez is a Black, Cuban-American poet who lives in New York. He is a TuCuba Fellow with the CubaOne Foundation and an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University, where he is also a Goldwater Fellow. Kyle serves as Poetry Editor of EFNIKS, a media space for queer and trans people of color. Recent poems appear in The Florida Review, The Boiler, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, Capital Pride DC, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @kylelop3z.
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