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My red roses, a thank-you gift from the poets who stayed at our home on June 1, 2013.

I have always enjoyed responding to the words of others. There is always a danger of becoming like Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott,” who was forced to weave vibrant tapestries while locked in a tower on an island. Because of a curse, she could only produce her art while looking into a mirror.

Last spring, a friend, Peggy Martinez, began a blog to honor the memory of her sister Margarita (Margie) who passed away after battling life-threatening asthma. In hopes of raising asthma awareness, she painted a series of roses and requested that her followers post poems under the various colors. Take a look at Peggy’s blog here: http://giftoftherose.com/asthma-awareness/

My “red rose” poem combines three influences: the lyrical tradition of Scottish poet Robert Burns, the chapter in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate where the heroine makes a dish called “Quail in Rose Petal Sauce,” and the tribute to the Dominican Republic called “Quisqueya la Bella.”

The song “Quisqueya” (the pre-Columbian name for the island that was later called Hispaniola) has been called the “second Dominican national anthem” and is similar to “America the Beautiful.” The “lament to call the beloved back” is an allusion to bachata, a three-step dance accompanied by a twangy guitar. This music has been called “a distant cousin of the blues.”

The diction is a bit archaic and this is done purposely to capture Burns’s Scottish dialect adapted into English.

My Red Roses

            – in response to “O My Love’s Like a Red, Red Rose”

            by Robert Burns

            and “Quisqueya la Bella”

            by Rafael Hernández Marín

 

Oh my love’s like a red red rose

that blooms in the gardens of old:

heirloom rose thrives in eternal sun

for flavors both subtle and bold.

 

From quail and rose petals a lovers’ dish

from the spirit of the Borderlands’ prime

spring fire from the heart and sighs from the lips

cardinal-red of desire sublime.

 

Oh my love’s like a melody

that’s sung to the beat of a drum:

laments to call the beloved back

that soar through the land I have won.

 

Bathed by the many seas of foam

white-plumed bird on the beach asleep

my love runs like the sands of time

finds the precious pearl from the deep.

 

The only star in the firmament

now offers his light once more:

roses white-plumed birds and pearls

shed their brilliance upon the shore.

 

These seas will never run dry mi vida

and the wind will carry my refrain.

To the beautiful island I shall return

and the rocks with the sun shall remain.

 

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