Abuela sweeps her hair back
Ties it up
Soy fea. I am ugly.
She says.

 

Such a common refrain.

 

I watch her hands
Weathered, but unwrinkled
Her fingers chorus
A more ancient verse
Of waters pulled
By an invisible moon
Onto a sand formally known as
Unknown
Formally known as
Hispanola
Formally known as
Ayiti

 

These hands
They sing for days longer
Than her words
Of the epic called
Morena. Black.

 

We used to have
Good hair
Esta familia. This family.
She says.

 

Such an unusual instruction.

 

Stay out of the sun.
But the sun is where I play.

 

Marry a white woman.
But my sisters are morenas.

 

For your babies. For the hair.
But I delight in my waves.

 

She tries to erase herself
Powdering her chest
Her hands laugh at her
Controlled but undefeated
With the divine wrapped in all their color

 

As we go
They hold me.
When I cross the street
When we go to buy plantains
When we smash them. Fry them.
Guiding my cursive, when I learn to write.
And when I say my prayers
Searching for God.

 

Second Place Winner

The Epic of la Morena won second place in the 2021 Dyer-Ives Poetry competition.

Download the 2021 Dyer-Ives publication here.