Que Significa; Impressionism; & Reconciliation, Back Then, Meant


Que Significa


I thought it’ d be cooler, here, 
in late June, but all night I’m kicking off the sheets 
and pulling them back over my body in the stillness 
of my room, until I remember, suddenly, 
those summers as a boy, lying in the twin bed 
with you. That was before the highway, when 
one needed to drive up and down the mountains 
to get from one side of the island to the other, and 
Salinas, where fishing nets hung to dry 
in branches along the shore and we swam 
in a clearing among the mangroves or rocked 
in a hammock behind the house where my mother and 
your father were born, still seemed untouched 
by “America.” Sometimes, at the bakery, or with 
the woman who sold lottery tickets outside 
the restaurant, or as the men drove us in the back 
of their trucks past the sugarcane fields, not understanding 
a word or turn of phrase, a joke someone made, 
I’ d ask, Que significa, but it was already 
over or too hard to explain, you’ d say. I grew 
homesick for English. One summer, at the movies, 
you cried so hard, it scared me, the screen lighting your wet face. 
One summer, sprawled out on the floor in front 
of the tv in our bathing suits, we began 
to wrestle, laughing until our hands, then our mouths 
moved across our bodies, driven by a force we let 
guide us. Then someone stopped, and we lay 
in the sunlit room breathing hard. Someone must have 
gotten up and walked away. Someone must have made 
small talk until we could pretend it never happened. 
Quiro verte, you said on the phone 
years later, both of us now with children
of our own. And when I made it back one day 
to the island, I drove to your house, knocking on 
the large door at the agreed-upon time, 
but no one answered. The flamboyant trees
were in bloom, their bright red blossoms scattered on 
the street, and it didn’t take long to get back 
to my hotel, but I got lost. I’ d never been 
to that part of the city and so much had changed.


Blas Falconer is the author of three poetry collections, including Forgive the Body This Failure (Four Way Books, 2018). His poems have been featured in Poetry, Kenyon Review, and the New York Times, and his awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange. He is a poetry editor for the Los Angeles Review and teaches in the MFA program at San Diego State University.