Chaos without danger.
Suddenly three lanes are two
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.
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.