[Poetry] Two Poems by Maria Maldonado

Puerto Rico


Chaos without danger.

Suddenly three lanes are two

No honking

In Bayamon, we are cowboys

Drive over grassy medians

Leave the highways

Where chickens run across the road.


No hatred bubbling beneath the surface

No hidden agendas

In the left lane, a man drives slowly

Lost in his universe

You let him be, pass on the right

If you were on the mainland

That slow left lane driver would speed up

You won’t pass him

When you dare, here comes the finger

In Puerto Rico he sings and greets you

With a flick of an eyebrow.


At last, my grandmother’s homeland

Who knew it always rained in Mayaguez?

Who knew family created possibilities?

Our strength, our beauty, our love

The stories told that will be told

Second chances and early morning talks.


~*~


Gilgo Beach


Water rushes through her ears

Urgency and inevitability of waves

Like a father who smooths sunscreen on his daughter’s cheek

Peace of the beach late dawn

Cochlea fill with the insistent lap of ocean


Seekers divining lost coins on the beach

Access to covert treasures that only they know

Children on a mound of sand

Faint joyful screams as ocean brushes their backs

Forgotten seaweed flung from their water home

Arranged in clumps hold tight to each other

Lifeguards atop their thrones

Witness the ocean grace, its inhabitants


Lone woman on a fish patterned blanket

Water bottle perpendicular to her thighs

Contemplates July on Gilgo Beach

(She didn’t know of the murders, not then)

She played with metaphors and similes

Wind kissed her neck, washed over her purple swimsuit

Saw the grace of the expert surfer as she glided to shore.

Maria Maldonado is a Physician-Writer. Her writing focuses on the intersection between the arts and policy. She has written for KevinMD.com and her medical narrative essays have been published in medical anthologies, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Affairs, and the Washington Post. She is presently working on a memoir and a book designed to help people navigate the medical system.