A Poem by Jaquira Diaz

June 15, 2020  By Jaquira Díaz

Every year around December you come back to me in dreams, except you’re a man now, tall like your father, dark like your mother, with a fly Miami accent and a low fade, an amateur boxer with a dope left hook, the king of blacktop ballers, tattooed and lean-muscled and sweaty, a barrio legend with a boy of your own, and sometimes you can’t believe just how much your boy looks like and moves like the boy you were, and how you wish I was still around so you could say, Look at my boy, Nena, just like Papi, and brag about your identical jump shots. And every December I wonder if you’ve told him about our nights, reckless and faded and full of music, how you wrote all those lyrics about growing up poor and Afro-Rican and fatherless, how we took the streets, terrorized the neighborhood, and maybe there are tears in your eyes, and maybe there aren’t, when you tell him how you loved me, how I loved you, how that was not enough, how when the holidays come around and the whole hood is blasting those aguinaldos and “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” you remember those two kids we were, how we lied to each other, promised to be together forever because we didn’t know any better, because we were only fourteen, because we needed to believe that there was someone.


Excerpted from The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 4: Latinext, a poetry anthology by Haymarket Books. 

Jaquira Díaz
Jaquira Díaz
Jaquira Díaz was born in Puerto Rico. Her work has been published in Rolling Stone, the Guardian, Longreads, The Fader, and T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and included in The Best American Essays 2016. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Kenyon Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She lives in Miami Beach with her partner, the writer Lars Horn.

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