Luisa Caycedo-Kimura


Mamá died before sunrise this morning. I find myself driving through Bayshore Boulevard, one of my favorites, after an early flight from Connecticut to visit her. Seventy-five degrees. Sunny. Cool for Tampa. I sip a cortadito, dark with a hint of steamed milk. To my left, mansions with water views. The newer ones, almost entirely of glass. The historic ones, Spanish-style homes for non-Spanish speakers, don clay roof tiles the color of Mamá’s hair the year she darkened it. No signs of aging. In Colombia, architecture was always Spanish-style, even the boarding school Mamá attended—open courtyards, orchids, macaws. How fitting, that after retirement, she and Papá left New York for this area. Runners dot the four-and-a-half-mile walkway that borders the bay. A woman with a stroller checks on her baby. Manatees and dolphins spy passersby. Locals never cancel plans, even when it’s raining. Sun doesn’t lag far behind. I’m headed to some funeral home—a place selected by an LPN. My sister was told about it when she stopped by the nursing home on her way to work. Mamá’s body was already gone.

seagulls drift
over concrete railing
a fisherman casts his line

She Begins

             the day     with
light   through   drawn   gauze
curtains   she wishes   were slats   were
coffee   were   brown   like
   her skin   grips   her     husband’s
hand   folded   under   her
pillow    clenched   like   the child
they couldn’t    conceive  she begins
   a shudder   a rawness    a prayer
a feign   of forgiveness    a memory    she
can’t   summon    or shake   a windstorm
of tripped   words of     gull   squawks
    of every   morning
breathe    focus   breathe   past   the quick
sand   pill bugs    a yearn for    your mother
years    dead   hold on    to the blue
   sheets   your husband’s
breath on   your arm      the shaking
will stop    the shaking

Luisa Caycedo-Kimura is a Colombian-born writer, translator, and educator. Her honors include a John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship at the Anderson Center at Tower View, an Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Fellowship at Ragdale, and a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry. Her work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A former attorney, Luisa left the legal profession to pursue her passion for writing. She holds an MFA from Boston University. Luisa’s poems appear or are forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Sunken Garden Poetry 1992-2011, RHINO, Diode, Shenandoah, Mid-American Review, Nashville Review, and elsewhere.

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