Cafe

This morning: cafe cubano,
the too-sweet stench
of platanos maduros

on the window sill.
They say I’m too white,
that I cannot lay claim
to my ancestor’s tongue

but they can’t discern
the merry clink of miniature
porcelain cups being brought down
from a high shelf

they can’t remember a land
steaming with hot soil
and a salt breeze;
Ruben at the piano,

old men singing in the streets.
I dreamed it, maybe.
Or was it a story?

Even so, most people forget
that after birth but before white or brown
or woman or man
we hunger for the nearest milk

and, years later, even after
the senna
and the pills
and the wasted time spent wishing
I was not alive

I reach for it:
two teaspoons of guava,
the thick pour of leche de almendras.

This is my story.
When I am hungry
I hold the world of my ancestors on my tongue
and swallow it.

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