The Spaniards came and cut open
the black heart of Hispaniola,
yet you survived it all,
it was you alone who survived.
The blood of martyrs fed dictators’ families
for several generations,
yet you alone survived.
Your mother survived loneliness and poetry,
and in the poverty where she raised you
your life was rich with music,
and so you, too, survived.
You survived your beautiful youth,
when nothing so beautiful lives so long.
You had feet to dance with
and hands to hold and none of this
was ever enough, no words sufficed,
the future was a hollow furnace where all things burned.
And that, too, you would survive.
There was Paris and Salzburg
and the Lower East Side.
There were nights when you thought
you knew, and suddenly
the universe was wide open,
but all this was a dream,
a dream that you survived.
You are here, at last,
and you are close, so close: I gaze in disbelief
at the marvel of you. I, too,
have lived this long.
I have traveled this far to reach you.