Saint Anthony Couldn’t Find Elizabeth Bishop’s House

— Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones

My Puerto Rican mother calls me from Padua to say,
Don’t worry, I’ve asked Saint Anthony to find your love
in every basilica
.

Your love,
as if it were lost between couch cushions.
My love,
the prayer that fell through the cracks.

My mother, who loses everything,
from government pensions
to cartilage,
who spends her savings on continental breakfasts
and guided tours of churches,
hangs up after saying,
You are missing from me
in Spanish,
like an Amen.

An American poet I love lost two cities,
Lovely ones, she said—
but it wasn’t a disaster—
and when I left my island home
I thought the poet’s way of losing
resounded in me more
than my own.

But I had left a place that rebuilds itself
like lizard tails
after each hurricane season.

I had already learned to lose and miss
what was directly in front of me,
not yet lost,
but always soon-to-be,
and somehow, found again.

Maybe that’s what my mother meant by
Find your love.
She knows it’s a lost cause,
always making its way back to me
with a different face
after hurricane season.

So I wait out July, August, September, October,
missing what makes its way back to me,
the gentle losing of what’s in front of me,

then the knife along the ridge of a pomegranate
the parting of hair
the unzipping of a jacket
the new voice that asks—
And you are?

until next hurricane season.


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