Eva Rodríguez Rosas

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Primo

ROOSTER –

The White Rock rooster steps into the sun, And burns his chicken skin.

 

“Dress to impress as if money doesn’t matter”

That same blue flux I wore for my communion,

Was mended and fixed for my high school graduation.

Adding length with scraps and a few new buttons.

 

Protected by the Gregorian Jesus reflection,

I kneeled over the blessed pillow.

With mother’s rosary on my left hook,

I posed, impeccable for posterity.

 

I should have drunk the holy water,

And stocked up on “God’s Bread.”

For I was clueless,

Of what lay ahead.

 

Growing up in the Bronx,

I remember the one and only tree.

Pushing up through cement,

With no shade to sit beneath.

 

Growing up, I never knew of jueyes,

Other than Baltimore Crab Cakes,

A wonderful opportunity to prank my sisters,

Waited for me in the isla del encanto.

 

We flew La Tranca in August 9 of 1959,

From the Bronx to San Juan.

San Juan looked nice, but on to Cabo Rojo.

The rusty public car ride was eternal.

 

Where was the pavement? So many trees.

I saw green for the first time in my life.

I soon forgot New York.

I thought I had arrived in paradise.

 

Mama pulled out the suitcases from the truncko,’

The Ballaja Barrio emerged from wood, zinc and stones.

Multiple hugs here and there, and unwanted wet kisses.

My annoyed sisters vanished into Mamá Abuela’s casa.

 

From the window I saw them,

Running like a pack of wild dogs.

Skinny dogs with raggedy clothes and bare feet.

Dirty faces spotted my glance and invited me to join in.

 

I stepped out and was instantly surrounded by mulatos.

My rooster said “cacaduduldu” and its spurs out and ready.

The dust cloud curtained the unfair match,

But my rosy cheeks stayed almost intact.

 

We raced.

For this one,

I ate dust.

I made friends.

 

Blinded by a vision of Roy Rogers,

Missing from the novelas,

I jumped on the back of a scared calf,

To the laughs of the jibaritos.

 

This blanquito, who landed in heaven.

Really landed in a huge pile of cow’s dung.

“It smelled like French perfume,

Compared to the odors of that skinny strip on Simpson St.”

 

“Don’t climb the trees,” they warned.

Not to explore the quenepa tree?,

Crawling with chivo that one!

I now know itch for exactly what it is.

 

To my surprise the palms,

Seemed to grow before my eyes,

And from them fell the “world’s biggest nut.”

The jibaritos curiously eyed the blanquito who didn’t know much.

 

They played gallitos, trompo, and marbles.

I had a bat, a ball and a glove.

We went to school and I wore shoes

And was reprimanded for having the wrong name.

 

Primo meant cousin,

Primo was my name.

Primitivo should be your name”’

But Primitivo was my father’s name.

 

Two blocks down, my father opened business.

“A solution for nasty mosquitoes – Cabo Rojo Screens,”

Got a few disappointed visitors

expecting cones of Cabo Rojo Aiscreams!

 

My mother sewed beautiful dresses,

And for the first time Cabo Rojo women got siluetas.

“Dresses perfect for a gay holyday, or the French Riviera…”

Most likely La Plaza, El Casino, or Boquerón Shores.

 

My sisters got the worst of it all.

City girls hated mud in their leather pumps.

The screams grew loud because of jueyes in their room,

And from the old ladies’ beaks chattering at their cropped pants.

 

Life was sweet and I got my first BB gun.

I befriended the women of the barrio with chickens,

And learned not to miss her roast beef with mashed potatoes.

The encrusted BB on my nose reminds me of a happy childhood.

9 Comments

  1. Bueno Mamita Linda, you just described la finca, the life, the animals & the world I would love to live in. Of course you made me cry ! Your beautiful words, comparison & just the thought that all that may no longer be simply breaks my heart. I will keep dreaming!

    On the other hand Mi Amorcito, you like many in our family are a great writer! It is wonderful that you know so much of your Papi and that you were able to narrate it in such a beautiful, typical, honoring and Puertorrican style!

  2. Does Primo really have a BB encrusted in his nose?
    Nah! Seriously, this is beautiful tribute to your wonderful dad. I am glad to have read it and get to know more about my brother.

    • Jaja, yes he does!

  3. I loved it and make me cry too.

  4. I loved this poem and make me cry.
    My son in law is my querendon”.
    En esa foto se parece a Eva, a Hector y a Elian.
    Love you all, Abuelita

  5. This is beautiful!!!

  6. Por poco puedo volver a oler el aroma de la naturaleza de aquellos tiempos. Gracias a mi Evita.

  7. What a beautiful way to tell the childhood story of your Papi! We can see him running chickens in Ballaja. Excellent!

  8. I love it, made me cry. It was like hearing papi talk. Thank you Eva.

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