“Love Poem Beginning with a Yellow Cab.” A Poem by José Olivarez

From His New Collection Promises of Gold

February 17, 2023  By Literary Hub


Love Poem Beginning with a Yellow Cab

for Erika

i ask you what’s the first thing you think about
when you see the color yellow & like a real
new yorker, you say yellow cabs. not sunlight
or a yellow ribbon tied around a vase of fresh begonias.
yellow cabs honking down Broadway. i still remember
the night we first shared a cab. you whispered
honey, whispered lace, whispered chrysanthemum.
all that practice & it turns out, i had never ridden
in a cab the right way. around us the streetlights blurred
into yellow ribbons, & when you put your hand
on my thigh it was like i knew for the first time
why god gave us thighs. why god gave us hands.
maybe god invented yellow for the cabs,
so the first time we touched like this
it could be accented in gold.



Poema de amor que inicia con un taxi amarillo

para Erika

te pregunto qué es la primera cosa en la que piensas
cuando ves el color amarillo & como una real
neoyorquina, dices que un taxi amarillo. no la luz del sol
o una cinta amarilla atada alrededor de un jarrón con
begonias frescas.
taxis amarillos tocando la bocina en Broadway. todavía
la noche que compartimos por primera vez un taxi.
miel, susurraste encaje, susurraste crisantemo.
toda esa práctica & resulta que nunca había viajado
en un taxi de la manera correcta. a nuestro alrededor las
luces de la calle se desdibujaban
en cintas amarillas, & cuando pusiste tu mano
en mi pierna fue como si supiera por primera vez
por qué dios nos hizo con piernas, por qué dios nos hizo con
tal vez dios inventó el amarillo para los taxis,
así que la primera vez que nos tocamos de esa forma
podría acentuarse en oro.

translation by David Ruano


promises of gold

Excerpted from PROMISES OF GOLD by José Olivarez. Published by Henry Holt and Company.  Copyright © 2023 by José Olivarez Translation Copyright © 2023 by David Ruano González. All rights reserved.

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