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"Crossings" & "Blank" by Leticia Priebe Rocha



Crossings

after moon river (the frank ocean cover)


a friend whom

I love dearly once told

me: it’s never about them,

it’s about


you

don’t believe in

absolutes and I

don’t believe that


there is no us, just

two slumped scarecrows

stuck in place

still somehow chasing


after our ends

echoes of somedays

don’t quite cross

rivers, but you know


this, my daylight

moon, this is

no breakfast at tiffany's -

wherever you’re going,


I’m going

away.



Blank


In 6th grade I made my very first American Friend, which meant that unlike the first-second-or-third generation Miami Cubans I had become so accustomed to in the 2 years I’d been in the U.S., she was a blonde, blue-eyed, family-arrived-on-the-Mayflower, American. The first time I went to her house, we had green beans, mashed potatoes, pork, and some light-brown goop for lunch. As her mother set a plate before me, I anxiously whispered to American Friend: “Did your mom forget the rice?” I was raised right and couldn’t bring myself to inquire about what I would, years later, learn was gravy. My good manners had limits though, and I simply couldn’t stay quiet about the rice, I mean, who eats a meal without rice? She laughed, assuming I was joking, and dug in, smothering her pork in the brown stuff. After the incredibly disappointing lunch that left me pining for rice, beans, and a banana, American Friend directed me to their dishwasher, another concept that was entirely foreign to me (“So you leave your dirty plates inside this thing for a few days and let the machine wash it? It doesn’t smell? The plates don’t break inside?” / “Wait you’ve never seen a dishwasher before? Do they like, not have electricity in Brazil or something?”). I tuned out her questions, which were no longer foreign to me after two years, and instead focused on her refrigerator - we definitely had those in Brazil. Baby pictures of her and her older sister, a red, white, and blue magnet with the Pledge of Allegiance printed nearly illegibly, and a photo of her parents in their uniforms (her mother was a firefighter, her father a cop - so American it hurt). What interested me though, were those little word magnets that you can use to put together silly sentences. These dotted the fridge with phrases like I am bear, boy is yuck, and cool egg. On the right side of the fridge, below a “I Survived Everglades National Park” magnet with a huge gator on it, someone had put together something different, less silly:


I dreamed of my home

and as my love flew I cried joy


I tried to stitch those words together as my friend babbled about the benefits of a dishwasher -


dreamed of my home


All that came up was home




Leticia Priebe Rocha received her bachelor’s from Tufts University, where she was awarded the 2020 Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, she immigrated to Miami, FL at the age of 9 and currently resides in the Greater Boston area. Her work has been published in Rattle, Apricity Press, Arkana, and elsewhere.

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