After Viewing Art with Four Strangers
After I left you, I walked towards the avenue. It was the wrong avenue, and I walked back and I passed you. You didn’t notice. I walked north on Eleventh and turned on Twenty-Fifth street to find the garage where I’d left my Honda Civic. The attendant was Hispanic. I was glad for the comfort. Ticket, payment, and car in my native Spanish after walking in uneven rain to galleries that the poet had picked out for us in Chelsea, after meeting you, four strangers. Though there was history in your faces. At the first gallery I felt the loaded brushstrokes on boxes thick on my skin. Drawings of waves and tablets and sky pleaded: Truth. Moby Dick spread a green blanket at our feet. I stared at a “Black, Spanish-American family,” a mother and well-cared for children. Blue dress, a fragment of lace, the braids on the girls, lipstick on the woman. Portrait of motherhood and dignity. To blue. To ruffle. To braid. To red. To black. To love. We were at a world-size party. So many voices. So it came as a relief six hours later to arrive at my car, punch in the ignition, already out of the habit of turning a phantom key. I made it home on autopilot, and when I arrived I found the door unlocked. I shook my weary umbrella. I went to the kitchen where I found an oatmeal scone bought days ago. I cut it in half. I cut a slice of sheep’s milk cheese with rosemary ground into the rind. I ate standing at the sink.
Marlena Maduro Baraf
Marlena Maduro Baraf has a knack for raising orchids. She immigrated to the United States from her native Panama and her writing is coloured by this dual identity. She has been interviewing Latinos from all walks of life for a series titled, Soy/Somos, I am/We are. Her work has been published in Sweet, Lilith, Lumina, Read 650, and Latino Voices at HuffPost. Her memoir, At the Narrow Waist of the World, is forthcoming in the fall of 2019
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