April 2019

The Take Archives

Grace Lau


when we leave / the fortress of El Morro at sunset /
a rainbow of / Havana-bound taxis curl / around
the gate, waiting / for los malditos turistas / to make up their minds
Ten pesos? Vamos, ten pesos

a fifties Ford pulls up beside us / top down / an American
classic / in the wrong country / wrong century / holding
the past and pre
awkwardly together like how / the taped-up door handle clings / to the panel
for dear life and / somehow / stays on

I think about Uber and cabs / with air conditioning back home
and I don’t / miss them

this one is soft / blue, a cloudless sky before it
bleeds / pink into balmy dusk / and then we’re flying
into the spell /of the swelling moon / and then we’re falling
into the Túnel de la Bahía / swallowed
by the womb / again / and then we disappear / into salt
air / Icarus would’ve lived / if he chose the night

I give up trying / to fix my hair / tangled in whispers / ghosts
of passengers past​​/ we emerge from the darkness / thrust
into life

Havana unfurls / before us / twilight
bloom / dama de noche / a girl like me has no business
taking a / bride this beautiful

Author’s Statement
I was lucky enough to be able to travel with my partner to Cuba, and I wrote this poem shortly after we came back home. I couldn’t stop thinking about this night for some reason; it’s etched into my memory as the very definition of magic.

From the Poetry Editors
The line breaks in this masterful poem frame such raw and unashamed material.  The piece practically commands the reader to examine each ‘stop.’ A favorite line is “a fifties Ford…/An American classic/ in the wrong country/ wrong century/…” Grace Lau glues time together while comparing cultural differences within her poem revolving around the concept of “pre-sent.” Lau also plays language to its strengths; setting the scene with authentic imagery that throws the reader between heaven and hell.