Issue 35, Final Fringe

Blackbirds


Tapas.     Tiny food.     And if you drink?     —this is the time,
     time for very high heels.     (Hold me)     The cousins wondered
Red wine is best.     Sit at the table, ankles crossed.     (How old?)
     there are twenty-seven blackbirds     I tell you: it gets better, if you
(hold my hand)     —into the ocean (go the girls)     each one is a speck of
     the birds are all black, they eat     dust.     Take a picture: twenty-seven

Majas.     Mi americanita, he says.     (There is no Chardonnay from CA)
     mírame.     Oh, the music throbs—     the line starts here, all the way in
Las cosas están malas.     (in the back)     he’s really (an actor, a magician, a
     fraud).     In twenty-seven inch high heels.     “Las muchachitas” have gone
(wild)     a parrot screeches     Hey!     the music throbs     (how old are you?)
     Here in America,     (16 oz. is a measure)     here in Spain.     –mamá,

las cosas están     —nothankyou.     (Arriba) Words paradox.     are you?
     take the veil. Mírame get old.     This is an egg, this is a girl, this is
a blackbird.     Tócame     (there is barely any time)     una guitarra     to
     measure.     (Pour the wine)     —the blackbirds fly—     (in an arc)
in go the girls.     (Out)     twenty-seven times     go     I am a terrible spy
     the blackbirds. Twenty-seven girls     (like tiny dishes)     Pop!     goes

Your mouth.     (Here is an opening)     Place your finger     —on the edge
     red     the color of leather     muñequita     (flip the coin)     into the barrel
Go with the blackbirds.     Mamá, things are bad.     A dog crosses the street.
     (at night)     all the girls wear heels.     How old?     (Si estuviera)     —I
Could not possibly.     Por qué?     (it’s a little like yakitori)     You know,
     at night all (the girls) are blackbirds.     (Come with me)     Forever, he says.

Is no time at all (no es suficiente).     (All the girls) go into the ocean. All the birds
     se me metió     (like a scented, sweet wine)     —I didn’t mean to     porqué?
On the beach     a cradle of mountains     pour the wine     (in an arc)     High all
     (around the coast)     Twenty-seven blackbirds     —over your head.     Scented,
Sweeter than girls.     (muchachitas)     they will not want     (picture it)     they
     will not taste     —porqué?     (hold my head)     above the water     twenty-seven

Times     I have been to Spain.     (I saw your face)     your mouth     (things are)
     not bad, he said     cuenta conmigo     —you will always be here     (a bride)
A blackbird.     Red wine leaves     (an indelible stain)     Mi vida,      send me
     twenty-seven postcards     (send me)     sweet, scented wine     (if you leave)
I will not     —the birds cover the ground     with their scent     how can I return?
     Look.     Here are the mountains.     (sit)     Ankles, crossed, las muchachitas

Do not wait for me in Spain.     Pero?     (things are bad)     Twenty-seven blackbirds
     will fly     (across the ocean)     you will not return. You will see the mountains
Crowds walk the streets.     They sit at the tables.     Las muchachitas pican at their food.
Celia Lisset Alvarez

Celia Lisset Alvarez

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Celia Lisset Alvarez is a Cuban-American writer and educator from Miami, Florida. She has two collections of poetry, Shapeshifting (Spire Press, 2006) and The Stones (Finishing Line Press, 2006). Her poems, stories, and essays have been published in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Grist and the Southern Humanities Review. She teaches writing at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.