My housekeeper had the dishes brought
from Cuba. Her husband then had swapped
jewelry for a color TV and East German plates.
Gold pattern inside the rim, and beneath it
a burgundy stripe. Their sturdy forms are boring
and the white all too white, the porcelain
not diaphanous. Their history, though,
embellishes them. Communism clinging
to its hated bourgeois persona. We too,
the clanging dishes say, can refine
the daily bread of unequal toil. Here, free,
she cleans houses, is richer and happy
to let these memories go. She calls them
the balsero service for six. Germany one, Cuba
disintegrating. What meals history serves up.
After the painting “Zanimo”[Animal] by Ernst Prophète
Otherwise, the pink
sky would denote
tenderness, a girl
her mother’s rouge.
But here a lamb trembles
knee-deep in a blue stream
watched by a wolf on the bank.
The earth, the sky are beaten red.
Calm plants punctuate,
wreathe the scene.
As if the slaughter
that must come
Is that the only amulet
In truth, the wolf
has come late to the hope
of killing, for the lamb
in his blue gullet
has already been devoured
by time, as have been
the dry wolf and the merciful,
Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s seventh book of poems, Man, published in 2014, is his fifth title with Carnegie Mellon U Press. A previous contributor to Plume, he is also an art critic and curator, specializing in modern Latin American art. He lives and works in Miami.