Blanco’s gentle poetry evokes a strong attraction to Cuba – the land, the food, all of it, including his mother. He concludes “Mail for Mama” by addressing her: “your eyes forever fixed / by a sentence of time, in a garden of never.” And then in “Mother Picking Produce”
I see all the folklore of her childhood, the fields,
the fruit she once picked from the very tree,
the wiry roots she pulled out of the very ground.//
And now, among the collapsed boxes of yuca,
through crumbling pyramids of golden mangos,
she moves with the same instinct and skill.
The first stanza is Cuba; the second, Miami.
He writes of his father as well, teaching him something in The Lesson:
What was the lesson, say it was a unique metaphor for what now
I understand as the necessity of killing beyond human wishes,
the very instincts that drive me to consume even what I love.
Notice the shift in tense.
I love Blanco’s verbs. A few examples —
“these faces will collage very Americanly” – “Photo Shop”
“We gypsy through the island’s north ridge” and “staked oars crucifixed on the shore” — both from “Varedero en Alba”
Other favorites are “El Cucubano” and the beautiful “Palmita Mia.”