I grew up in a town where my poetry
was born between the city’s island
and Mami’s soul kitchen on the 6th floor,
it took its voice from graffiti walls and like rhythm,
it steeped itself in the blues.
Bebopping to music made from scratch
I crossed state lines
to, stubbornly, fall in love.
Floating between shooting stars
in southern summer nights
I couldn’t fathom any place
being greater than the greatest city in the world.
The empire of neon and chrome
The sanctuary of bohemia
The primitive grounds of sound
and imagery and the spoken word.
But I love southern waters without knowing
how, or when, or from where.
It’s without complexities or pride
that I surrender to southern skies.
I become sacred all over again
at every sunset.
I rise at dawn to surrender to love
—to southern love, to exude
an inner southern belle, ‘cause I know
the way countrymen love
is like Pacific waves walloping
against wooden boats: a to and fro
motion that syncs with the pulse
of my moans.
My father sang to me once, till the night slithered
its way past us.
Under flowing skirts were gyrating
hips that learned to dance bachata and merengue
so that one day Mr. Man could learn
how my bloodline began.
You see—I’m rooted in el barrio, in the country.
My adoration split between giant skyscrapers
and the soft scent of salt water is a spell
I tenderly give in to…
My city is my anthem,
but the country will always be my story.
Marjua Estevez is a fourth-year Graphic Design student attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. She originally hails from the “city that never sleeps,” and has a vivacious passion for the art of writing. She has published various poems in academic publications. She has interned with The Source magazine and is currently interning with Back\Slash magazine.