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By Richard Blanco

Someday compassion would demand

I set myself free of my desire to recreate

my father, indulge in my mother’s losses,

strangle lovers with words, forcing them

to confess for me and take the blame.

Today was that day: I tossed them, sheet

by sheet on the patio and gathered them

into a pyre. I wanted to let them go

in a blaze, tiny white dwarfs imploding

beside the azaleas and ficus bushes,

let them crackle, burst like winged seeds,

let them smolder into gossamer embers—

a thousand gray butterflies in the wind.

Today was that day, but it rained, kept

raining. Instead of fire, water—drops

knocking on doors, wetting windows

into mirrors reflecting me in the oaks.

The garden walls and stones swelling

into ghostlier shades of themselves,

the wind chimes giggling in the storm,

a coffee cup left overflowing with rain.

Instead of burning, my pages turned

into water lilies floating over puddles,

then tiny white cliffs as the sun set,

finally drying all night under the moon

into papier-mâché souvenirs. Today

the rain would not let their lives burn.


Richard Blanco, "Burning in the Rain" from Looking for The Gulf Motel. Copyright © 2012 by Richard Blanco.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Looking for The Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012)

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Poet Bio

Richard Blanco
Richard Blanco was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States—meaning his mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where he was born. Only forty-five days later, the family emigrated once more and eventually settled in Miami where he was raised and educated. Currently, he is a board member and Vice-President of The Macondo Foundation, an association of writers founded by Sandra Cisneros united in their creative advancement and service to community. A builder of cities and poems, Blanco currently lives in Miami where he writes and works as a consultant engineer. See More By This Poet

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