Abu, dozing in a satin chemise,
drifting away in a hammock
knotted to her balcony, dissolves
back into the green mountain--
her dreams quilting a hillside--
patchwork façades of houses.
Green homes cataract down high slopes to Río de Plata.
Jade, lime, mint, green papaya, sea-washed glass,
the brightest green of young iguanas--
thus camouflaged, each house dematerializes.
On the green checkerboard of the basketball cancha,
teens playing keep-away jump
for a last inside hand lay-up and then swallow
themselves down into the green of beer bottles.
Skateboarders jump green ramps, sailing up green staircases.
La guaguita de los dulces, a van selling mazorcas,
pastelitos and budín de pan fades into a green ravine,
siphoning off its subsiding bullhorn song.
Naranjito’s green jumping spiders boing off
car windshields, landing in clerodendrum flowers.
It’s quiet now inside the mountain,
where they have all gone.
In his green kareoque bar, Vicente holds
an open jar to one ear
and hears weather patterns,
clouds walking the high ridges, no grind
of industry or clamor of metal,
just mist and things sprouting,
underworld water filtering through karst,
water chords tuned by cave rocks.
Even the painters who wear fatigues and splash
rollers into their great buckets of green, finally paint
themselves into the upstairs corners of the grand houses
of descendants of coffee barons and the small casitas
of children of coffee pickers. They vanish.
In El Cerro de Naranjito, a pueblo built by coffee,
an aroma of drying and roasting beans,
coffee highs and delirium tremens did not drive
architects to make even one flourish, one frilled
cornice or fluted balustrade.
of this isle has its postcard plaza and cathedral,
a line of Seville orange trees where men and women
whisper piropos, promises scented by blossoms,
haloed by bees, but not here in Naranjito.
A range of mountains
cradles box row buildings,
the ugly gauntlet of this town.
Obreros of the cafetales dreamed of endurance
until Hurricane San Felipe uprooted
their lives. Paint it all back
into the mountainside.
En la montaña,
in a green maroonage,
families gather at the community centre
to remake the pueblo in their image,
to find the cemí of these mountains.
At just the right angle,
in just the right light, the hill looks pixelated.
Green monk parakeets fly into green walls,
bruising wings and dropping feathers.
Sometimes artifacts are found
by visitors looking for Naranjito,
a framed portrait
of a mother’s lost son,
a few Goya cans of petit pois,
a quiet radio singing,
vámonos pa’l monte, vámonos pa allá.
Loretta Collins Klobah
Loretta Collins Klobah is a professor of Caribbean Literature and creative writing at the University of Puerto Rico. Her poetry collection The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2011) received the 2012 OCM Bocas Prize in Caribbean Literature in the category of poetry and was short listed for the 2012 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection in the Forward poetry prize series. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Poetry 2016, BIM, Caribbean Beat Magazine, The Caribbean Writer, The Caribbean Review of Books, Poui: The Cave Hill Literary Annual, Susumba’s Book Bag, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters, WomanSpeak, TriQuarterly Review, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, The Missouri Review, The Antioch Review, Cimarron Review and Poet Lore.
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