“When I was a Little Cuban Boy” by Richard Blanco:
O José can you see… that’s how I sang it, when I was
a cubanito in Miami, and América was some country
in the glossy pages of my history book, someplace
way north, everyone white, cold, perfect. This Land
is my Land, so why didn’t I live there, in a brick house
with a fireplace, a chimney with curlicues of smoke.
I wanted to wear breeches and stockings to my chins,
those black pilgrim shoes with shiny gold buckles.
I wanted to eat yams with the Indians, shake hands
with los negros, and dash through snow I’d never seen
in a one-horse hope-n-say? I wanted to speak in British,
say really smart stuff like fours core and seven years ago
or one country under God, in the visible. I wanted to see
that land with no palm trees, only the strange sounds
of flowers like petunias, peonies, impatience, waiting
to walk through a door someday, somewhere in God
Bless America and say, Lucy, I’m home, honey. I’m home.
Previous Dish coverage of Blanco, the poet for Obama’s second inauguration, here.
(From Directions to the Beach of the Dead by Richard Blanco © 2005 Richard Blanco. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. Photo of Blanco by Lawrence Schwartzwald, used with his permission.)