seawall that stretches for 5 miles along the coast in Havana
The sea, a liquid mammal, wallops against the rocks.
A muck-haired child collects driftwood and fetish,
instrument of the wind. A few paces left, man
and wife take turns sipping from a brown paper bag,
rum dissecting their bodies into joy. No puedo, no puedo.
The conch salesman burns his tongue on another man’s
English, the tourist’s clean silhouette swallowed whole by sunset.
Here, our blue is auditory: a kiss on the shoulder, drumbeat
like the march of a thousand ants. When I was young
my mother told me our people are loud because we have to
be dangerous. Years later, when a girl’s body is found
in the honeycomb foam of the shore, even the waders lower
their bills in silence. Makeshift altar with petals and shells.
The water a blameless white.
LESLIE SAINZ is a first-generation Cuban-American, born and raised in Miami, Florida. A CantoMundo Fellow, she received her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of Devil’s Lake. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Narrative, Black Warrior Review, The Florida Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, Four Way Review, and others. She was the Fall 2017 Writer-in-Residence at the Hub City Writers Project, and will serve as a 2018-2019 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University.