Land for Sale

By GUSTAVO PÉREZ FIRMAT

POETRY FINALIST

Someone was born here. Someone died.
The night they moved in, they made love
so hard, she worried the neighbors would
hear them. Afterwards she closed the blinds.

They were two at first, then three, then four,
then three again and two once more. Life.
One afternoon a tornado came through—
purple light, wind whooshing, doors rattling.

They huddled in the bathroom. The dish
blew off the roof. Twigs flew. Nothing
happened. Life. Once he kicked a wall in.
Once she hid a wedding dress. Nothing

pleased them more than weekend nights.
By themselves, they feasted. Never travelled,
they didn’t want the house to miss them.
(So he said. The truth is he was afraid.)

CDs, books and photos lived on the shelves.
The new sofa and chair were fifteen years old.
When he wasn’t alone, he was with her.
What one forgot, the other remembered.

Children came to visit. They were fed.
The woods in back matured. Robins returned.
One day he woke up early, turned to her
and said, “Good morning, babe.” She wasn’t there.

 

Gustavo Pérez Firmat was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Miami. He has published several collections of poetry in English and Spanish—Scar Tissue, Bilingual Blues, Equivocaciones, and Carolina Cuban—a novella, Anything but Love, and a memoir, Next Year in Cuba. Pérez Firmat has written a number of books of literary and cultural criticism, among them The Havana Habit, Tongue Ties, Cincuenta lecciones de exilio y desexilio, Life on the Hyphen, and The Cuban Condition. A new book of essays, A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking Back at America’s Hometown, was published by the University of Texas Press in October 2014. Pérez Firmat has taught at Duke University and is currently the David Feinson Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He divides his time between New York City and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


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