Federico Garcia Lorca was a poet with deep set eyes and a hood of thick eyebrows. When pressed together, his lips resembled two curved shells. He was a diminutive man who walked with a limp. His hands were delicate and resembled a child's.
Since I read recently that the Spanish government will soon try to exhume his remains, I have thought much about Lorca, his words but also his body, what must now only be his disassembled bones, his prettiness and his flaws dissolved to minerals. He is perhaps buried near Granada, where hundreds of men and women were executed by gunshot in 1936, during the Civil War, beside a cemetery wall and its surrounding hillsides and olive trees.
Lorca died in summer, four months before the olive harvest and when the trees' silvered branches were likely heavy with petals and fruit. Some of them are very old, their leaves long threaded by a wind that arrives through a vacant archway, as Lorca wrote, "...blowing relentlessly over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents; a wind that smells of baby's spittle, crushed grass, and jellyfish veil, announcing the constant baptism of newly created things."
Lorca is green as the sky at the hour of the crepúsculo, when the moon begins its bright ascent and the sidewalks fall to darkness. Lorca is the shadow-green of mangroves and pines, the slash of green beneath the egret's eye. He is the green that enters in silence; he is the green that returns.
Lorca was a poet whose work I read out loud and in Spanish to my mother and stepfather. She made Cuban coffee and served it in tiny china cups. He sat at the kitchen counter and noted, kindly, that my pronunciation was better than he had expected, quite good, in fact.
That summer when my mother's hair had finally grown back after her chemo, her head now dark and budding with curls, I could read espadas and adelfa but did not know they meant swords and oleander. It is easier to speak than to understand. Spanish, with its velvet-clad consonants and hopeful vowels, each letter sounding exactly as it appears. Nothing is left behind. Nothing is buried.
When my mother says my name, her voice rings like a little gold bell, and I think of yellow, a color that, like her, is filled with resolve. Yellow is a window, a locket, a poison that can heal. Yellow is Pinar del Rio -- heat and flat valleys and where my mother's people are from. When I was a girl, yellow was the braid she wore long and down the middle of her back; yellow was the garden of succulents she grew, their branches circuitous, and each leaf's shape a surprise: a paddle, a button, a dagger, a heart.