Something Sweeter than Fish

by Li Yun Alvarado

The sadness of migration / is when you realize you’ve finally spent /
more years in your adopted country / than you’ve lived in your own

- Roger Bonair-Agard

Mami searches her dreams
for fish. A hint of saltwater
beyond concrete landscapes.

She searches and finds
Atlantic currents,
twenty-nine years strong,
pulling her south.

The news comes too quick:
my brother and I
are like the last to arrive

at the supermarket before
a hurricane, rushing only
to find sardines and teabags,
no water.

I scavenge for lost
pockets of me.
Find pictures

of her holding us
when she was
younger than we
are now.

In my house,
I make room
for my framed

Yale credential,
bragging rights
that should hang
on Mami’s walls.

Poems and diplomas,
these are the grandchildren
I have given my mother.

Mami searches her dreams
and sees la vieja y el viejo
(still alive!) still waiting
for two of their children.

Mami searches her dreams
for fruit. For something sweeter
than fish to take her to her latter years.

Your children will be OK,
the boats on the Marina de Salinas
assure her. So she floats on her back
and she goes.

©Li Yun Alvarado

Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
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