I feel very connected with you,
as I am writing this
but also reading this
for the first time,
just like you.
will you be cared for
by Iaia, as I was, as a little girl in Rio,
where my crazy flower of a momma
left my father, the man in the television,
left him helpless to put order in our hearts?
Are you holding my hand?
How do you feel when you read
how much I care about your caring about me?
Iaia was from Bahia, the warm womb of Brazil,
and she came with Candomblé,
the river on which the African saints
had sailed westward, in slave ships, in dark days.
Iaia cooked us cozido and pirão
and delighted with us in our girlish dancing.
Luiz Gonzaga Malheiros,
my esteemed father,
could never be a mama.
So he sat himself at a worn wooden desk
to prove the inexistence of God.
Maria de Gloria, in her separate sticky room in Copacabana,
missing the mothering of me, did auditions for death.
Neither Luiz nor Maria succeeded.
And in between them,
I began to hear the music,
the breath of the waves,
the clamoring coro of the sidewalks.
And my way started to compose itself.
I bloomed, and learned to be plucked,
and tested my browned and blonded body
by quickening its head, with smoke and colors.
Sometimes I saw what mommy saw,
and was glad and sad to see it.
Daddy sent me away, to the Disneyland of the North,
where I learned to order greasy food with hard consonants.
But I remembered to sing.
And I found America yearning towards my dipthongs,
seeking my salt-watered musical memories,
wanting curing from my dear dead Iaia.
Are you listening now, as I sing choro and bossa?
Have you married me, and made a mother of me?
And now, are we world enough?
Written By: Jeff Kaliss
About the Author: Jeff Kaliss has been studying creative writing and music at City College following the completion of an MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University. At City, he’s appeared in Forum in various genres, read at Lit Night, and hosted the Poetry for the People Podcast.