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Experimental Poem/Prose: Bonita’s Song

This “experimental” “poem” (feel like I should put both words separated in quotes because I rarely write like this) was previously published on The Community Storyboard.

* * *

She called me her little Puerto Rican.

I was too young to remember, she said.

 Not until I was an adult,

and she lay on her bed, her white hair spread like a fan on the pillow,

her wrinkled, spotted hands folded on her chest,

her opaque eyes fixed on the bluebird outside her window.

But I remembered me then

Dark chocolate hair

Black eyes

Skin that colored dark tea in the summer sun

Not at all like her

Cornsilk hair

Emerald eyes

Skin so fair that the sun burned it out of jealousy

She called me her little Puerto Rican.

A few had migrated to our part of the state, up from the City.

They were not like us whose arms were sun-stroked brown and shoulders marble white.

They were brown all over, a brown that suggested earth and warmth and something sweet.

There was one that worked at her father’s farm, my grandfather’s farm.

He would pick me up and lift me high above the corn stalks,

And I would see my daddy–my icy gold idol–astride his tractor in the field across the road.


She called me her little Puerto Rican.

He called me Bonita.

He would let me ride on his shoulders as he walked the fields.

He would show me how to feed hay to the cows, to shovel manure, to ride on the backs of the young calves.

He would wash the dried manure from my feet before letting me go into the house where I would eat dinner, the house he never entered.


She called me her little Puerto Rican.

He called me Bonita.

I would come around the barn and see them.

His dark hands on her hips.  Her pale hands on his shoulders.  Their heads plied together, narrow, moving strips of light and dark.

My daddy would be in the fields, on his tractor, a shrinking shape moving toward the setting sun.

I’d run and hide and surprise him when he came around the barn and make him carry me, hold me close like he held her

So I could smell his dusty dry skin, the heat in his black hair, and feel the vibration of his throat as he laughed and called me Bonita.


She called me her little Puerto Rican.

And now there were tears in her eyes as she watched the bluebird and made me remember that last summer

That last summer night when the storm raged within and without our house,

When the thunder eclipsed the yelling and the crying and the door slamming

And I burrowed under my thin blanket and wished he would carry me on his shoulders through the dark and the rain.

 She made me remember that summer he left and my daddy stayed

And she stopped calling me her little Puerto Rican

And he was no longer there to call me Bonita

And no one called me anything anymore.


Categories: Fiction Poetry Writing

Tagged as:

Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

19 replies

  1. Superb! I love the repetition of those phrases, the way they set up that final line and leave you with a sense of abandonment. One of my favorite themes too — that we can never really know the private lives of our parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kevin! Interesting you mention the theme. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess it’s a favorite of mine, too. At least to write about 🙂


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