When I was a child of about 6
I called countries mundos.
These were worlds that had to
be travelled to through the sky.
When it was time for us to leave our world
I remember my grandmother’s house full of people,
coddling small tin cups of café.
“Ay, se me van a ir los muchachos,”
like an excerpt from an old bachata
ay, ay, ay, in three steps and get going
back and forth in that little old house.
My brother and I—about the size of a mata
in our little human bodies, barely people, readied
to become immigrants.
“Ay, pero se van los muchachos mios.”
Long farewells separate us like
exoplanets, the idea of life in another
almost promises to elude us for it
Little brother and I became naturalized in our new world.
We were planted deep in the coarse concrete, and
grew any which way we could, coiling around
rusting fences enclosing court yards that no one
cared enough to clear so we called home.
In this world, we cannot beckon back
twenty years of timespace
and we learn that our carved childhoods
will expand like empty space until
we become deep with the blackness that holds
the stars that holds our memories.
Ayendy Bonifacio is the author of Dique Dominican (2017) with Floricanto Press. He was born in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. He is currently a doctoral candidate in English at The Ohio State University, where he teaches writing and composition courses with themes of nineteenth-century U.S Literature, Latinx writers, print culture, and poetry. His articles and poems are published in Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, The Journal: A Literary Magazine, Juked, aaduna, The Acentos Review, and other journals.
Kathleen S. Burgess
I value the perspectives, craft, and emotion woven into “Other Worlds” by Ayendi Bonifacio: the children set spinning like exoplanets orbiting another world, their mundo, and their wrenching emigration through the sky away from the known, the extended family. Like a mata, planted deep in an unfriendly environment, they “learn that our carved childhoods / will expand like empty space until / we become deep with the blackness that holds / the stars that holds our memories.” A displacement without self-pity or sentimentality, that moves the reader into that same cold, empty space, as children find ways to grow and thrive on almost nothing known but an enlarging and unattended dark.
Kathleen, thank you so, so much for the wonderful comment–truly heartfelt coming from a great poet like yourself. So many congratulations on _What Burden Do Those Trains Bear Away_ and for the Pushcart nomination! So great! Congrats!