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#1: The Colony

 

His bumper sticker says

“Boycott any company that makes

you press 1 for English.”

 

The apartment complex is a dying

vestige of Hollywood colonialism

of faux stucco and golden orange paint.

 

You turn

down La Mirada Drive, circling

around each cluster of condos.

 

A woman wearing

a hijab and a woman holding

a rosary walk past, united

through their age.

 

Jasmine blooms

next to the dumpster,

wafts of flowery perfume and putrid garbage emanating

as you pass.

 

Shirtless teens stroll past

the wrought-iron bars as you turn

on Toledo, towards the Ethiopian restaurant. You wait

for the light to change

while a man with a confederate flag on the back of his truck passes

you.

 

#2: Hogar

 

A squirrel nibbles at

a fallen mamey.

 

Abuela ties a plastic lizard to

the mango tree. A white cat strolls along

the fence, eyeing her.

 

Abuela doesn’t notice and continues to

hum her ballads.

 

Ferrell peacocks call from

the distance.

 

I float on

a vinyl purple flower.

My thighs stick to

the surface though

I try to

moisten them with

gentle splashes of chlorinated salvation.

 

My outer arms warm to

a golden brown color, like melted butter in

a copper skillet.

 

My inner arms embrace their cool pale tone,

blue veins peeking through

fish in

a frozen river.

 

The banyan trees begin to

grow where they had been cut last hurricane season,

short green branches bursting from

flat brown knots.

 

I hop out of

the pool to

stare at the bougainvillea. I lay my towel beneath

and peer at

a fuchsia filtered sky.

 

A cane toad rests by

my ankles.

 

Mosquitoes buzz past, finding rotten guava a few feet from

me.

The scent makes my head

spin and soon I lose track of

time and space.

 

 

Suddenly

or

a few hours later

the sky is a midnight blue.

 

More cane toads arrive,

calling out

to the moon.

 

#3: I-10 to Lake City

 

I notice the first piece as I drive home from school,

rushing to pick up my kids before day care closes,

rushing to lie down after a day of teaching 5th graders how to cite textual evidence from poetry.

 

The jagged edges of the watermelon are lined with dirt.

Bits are strewn across the highway,

the amaranth meat slowly turning the color of old ballet slippers.

 

After merging on to I-95 south,

I see a broken shovel on the shoulder of the road,

the blade splintered from the shaft.

 

I exit onto Beach Boulevard,

The overpass above me lined with cars,

A white man in a red hat knuckle deep in frustration as the cars trudge slowly across the sky.

 

I finally arrive to day care minutes before closing,

My son’s golden brown curls caked in a sweet juice,

My infant daughter’s eyes filled with fire and molasses.

 

 

Michelle Lizet Flores is a Miami native and Jacksonville transplant. A graduate of the FSU and NYU creative writing programs, she currently works as a 5th grade reading teacher where she fosters the next generation of American writers. 

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