Our embargo lifted its hands
off my eyes yanked my chin towards
the colorful architecture of your face
and left me alone with you, strange courier
of my DNA you, an almost-familiar place.
Hello, Cuba, hello father, may I call you that?
If a homeland offers no house or apartment,
if there is no familiar front door acting as a veil
between day in and day out,
if there is not enough monotony
from kissing the same faces goodbye,
if every family has its scent
and I can smell ours
then I am still an outsider your hija Americana
sitting finally at your table
cradling a cup of coffee like an egg in my palm.
Do not speak directly towards me
Do not be silent let me bask in your accent—
my first words were pale, vast land and highway,
mouth dry with Tennessee cornbread, Mom’s
bleached wooden spoon stirred in shug-uhr
but at school I liked the feel of Spanish
in my mouth, en mi boca like ripe black-skinned sweet plantain,
butter-soft and fried, r’s rolling in a hot pan of my saliva.
Before you called me daughter, I had proof
tuyo es mío I am not yours but what’s yours is mine