Laurisa Sastoque

Before, showerheads with their bashfulness
fogged skin parabolas and body hair,
when the sole curvature we had caressed
was the dried shell of a half-gourd submerged

in a tank of still water. We bathed with
the same nonchalance of the creole dog—
to intruders, beast, to siblings, guardian—
who mounted both his paws and caught a sip

of a buddle. For youthful minds, a spring
like Diana’s, devoid of sin, until
Actaeon’s eyes did spy against her will
and tainted three cousins’ liquid playground

with thoughts of impure possibilities
in flying soap bars and hairless armpits.
Oh, how I wish that life were as simple
as back then when canine thought was worth more

than diverging paths, when to flaunt tanned skin
mattered more than the tags on the collars
of our clothes and when my buttocks peering
towel seams meant but a shortage of stitch.

Simple as a few rolled r’s from my grandma’s
sewing machine, as ten people sleeping
in a two-bedroom shack, as crunching up
thin covers at the whistles of nighttime
and scraping sugar cane to top slices
of lemons—they grew on a dwarfish tree,

behind the window of my grandpa’s room,
where serpents could roam unseen and flee from
the dripping fangs of Pancho the old dog,
before a red frog’s bite poisoned his blood.

Back when the land of sunrises was home,
bathing in the fount of Joropo sound
reminded us of the breeze after six,
when we sat around a dinner table:
wooden for adults, plastic for us kids.

When asked about the inspiration for this piece, Laurisa said, “Thanks to the pandemic, I have had to travel to my grandparents’ town several times. Their house brought back many memories of me and my cousins when we were kids. In such a modest place, we found adventures in the simplest things. This made me realize how, as we grow up, we overcomplicate our lives and cease to find joy in our surroundings. I wrote this poem as a nostalgic ode to better times and as a tribute to the place that instilled many of my values in me.”