by Norma Bradley

Letters travel between
the Bronx and Havana.
We meet for the first time when you
step off the plane at La Guardia.

Meandering through the hard
city streets, we lunch
where food passes through tiny windows.
Each sandwich has its own home.
I delight in your sense of humor and Cubano accent,
laugh when you tease about my skinny ankles.

The Shortline takes us to the lake.
Surrounded by moving grasses
hugging the edges, we run
old wooden boards, jump
into the lake’s warm water.

My mouth falls open when
Havana’s lush tropical paradise greets.
Under the stars we dance
to the rhythms of Rumba and Mambo.

One million Cubanos
seek refuge in Miami.
Miguel becomes Cubanoamericano,
takes the name Michael, later Mike,

searches faces in photographs
looking for connection:
the keeper of family stories.

On the woodland trail
I hear your voice,
brush away dark leaves,
search for footprints.

Norma Bradley is a multimedia artist, an expressive arts therapist, and the former director of education for HandMade in America. She has been writing poetry since the age of ten, and has had several poems published. Three are included in From the Listening Place: Languages of Intuition, edited by Margaret Blanchard. She is working on a chapbook of children’s poems inspired by her Art Quilts. Honors include participation in the NC State Visiting Artist Program with a yearlong residency at Pamlico Community College and a fellowship from the Hambidge Creative Residency Program.

About Footprints—This poem is in the form of an elegy inspired by the sudden loss of a beloved family member. His death opened the door to long-held grief of other family members who perished trying to escape from oppression and deep feelings about this continued human condition. It was a vehicle for healing and personal expression.

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