Two poems by Virgil Suarez

The Soursop Tree

      grew larger next to the brick wall
by our house in Havana,
this loose-leafed tree
      that gave neither shade
nor flower, but once a year
the guanabana grew gnarled
      fruit the size of human hearts,
dangled in the sun like some
prehistoric porcupine curled
      in on itself. Gray-green,
with a mock-sweet aroma.

My parents loved them,
      this fruit of their paradise,
how when they pulled it
apart in their hands, its pulpy
      milky teeth opened. They
filled their mouths with it,
its ripeness, its history of tart.

      A strange bitter-sweet
hard to explain, even now,
when I lookup the word
      only find out that "guanabana"
in English is Soursop,
a misnomer for a fruit, a tree
      that so links this time, this life
with another, ripening so
in the distance…

The Psalmist, After Johnny Cash's "Oh Bury Me Not"

What is found in mote of dust a float in shaft
of light coming through an abandoned house's
window? A cracked dirty floor, a woman

with her back turned to the door , my grandmother
perhaps, working on the evening's meal, a toad
in the cool, damp spot by there in my grandfather

wiped his mud-caked boots by the door, a machete
blade rusted like this thought of a dying man,
a pistol his hands, the way my mother claims

my father's father went down, or Marti, Cuba's
martyred leader, a man with a weakness for pretty
women and poetry. In the church of bliss, the book

closes itself against the ravages of a crow trapped
in fire. Here is Jesus, man of earth and fire, water
for eyes. In his bosom aches a heart, in his guitar

the history of how a man travels, never coming back
to where he started. My father always claimed he wanted
to be buried back home. How can we all return?

In black dust, a mote sifting free in the fading light.

Virgil Suarez