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The Tropics, by Alma Linda Martinez

In the evening when the boys have

gone to be with you my fingers

trace the edges of book bindings.

I trace them like old memories of

when my brain was part of what

connected me to my most

trusted companions.

How we lived with our heads

dangling for so long is a

mystery only explained by God.


He knew my heart needed

tethering to someone who could

enfold and protect it.

Whose gaze could build me up

like a clutch that had

been worn smooth from

too much shifting.

Shifting because the world was

a Rolodex always spinning

while I searched for the

number to call home.


You held me safe there with

my eyes half open

refusing to see what I

knew was there all along.


My hand finds the title,

“Starved Stuff.” The irony grows

a chuckle from my belly,

soft and jiggling from too many

nights of chocolate grazing.

The man whose words kept us

together also spoke words that

began the unraveling. A snag not

fixed by gently tugging,

gently pulling.


We were never meant to be a sweater.

Maybe a vest or scarf, but the sweater

was too big for us.

We were kin to the tropics, and this

sweater scratched on salty slick skin.


Don’t think I didn’t love you.


Even with the sandpaper of your face

when you kissed me goodnight I

loved you.


Even with calloused fingers that

traced my sensitive shoulders I

loved you.


I wanted to be more fit for the Arctic.


I wanted to stay wrapped up in you

with your flesh warm and inviting,

but I am not fit for cold weather.


I am made for barefoot and

sunshine bearing down on my nose.