for Gustavo Cerati


I look for you in 

Puerto Rican heat, and Papi

singing in his Suzuki,

water on either side

of the bridge to Isla Verde.


I am sorry, Cerati,

that we can never return

to the sandy shores of our childhood.

Our feet are no longer soft

or small enough

for the walk backward,

to birthday parties,

when Papi held you,

and your family sang

Cumpleaños Feliz.


I don’t know you, but I know

how to say love:

risa, familia, sana sana.

I have seen Abuela’s blue-green bowl

fill with mangoes.

And I know I am too old

to let the juice stay

on my cheek, too old

to lift my dress

and dance in the street.


I have heard your voice

against the air, tearing

through the back seat

on the freest ride

we will ever know.


And I know the song

is never the same

once you are alone                                                                                          

in your room

and the loved ones born

from the music

are gone.

ISABEL ACEVEDO is an MFA candidate at Georgia College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Tule Review, Santa Ana River Review, and others. She serves as Assistant Poetry Editor of Arts & Letters