“Patio Postcard” by Hanzel Lacayo, translated from the Spanish by Diane Kendig

Woman in Estelí, Nicaragua, 1980s, Steve Cagan

Patio Postcard

I dreamed of my whole childhood back in the day.
It was Saturday, my grandpa was in the yard
and the guinea chickens
were eating the cilantro.
I didn’t understand why
the wheat he had sown was withering
and the sweet peppers dying,
swarmed with the white fly plague.
I dreamed the sun, very low,
painting me a mustache of sweat and coal.
Behind my back I heard the boiling
of my grandmother’s kermess pot
announcing my cousins would arrive
to drink bone soup with crabs.
And just look at the sour orange fresco
with lots of ice!
My grandma put out more dasheen
and I’d pull the beef cartilage out just for myself.
I dreamed those weren’t the lemon tree branches
that were scratching against the zinc roof
but the sharp claws
of the iguanas we never caught.
My grandfather broke a coconut with a machete
and he got such music out of the whetstones.
My best friend arrived
who already died in the protests
to offer me fruit Grandma called “little curds” 
and the capulinas were growing up the channel.
I dreamed in the jail that I was a kid
sown in the summer,
that I left my cell today
to play forever in that yard.

Postal de patio

Soñé con toda mi infancia de día.
Era sábado, estaba mi abuelo en el patio
y las gallinas de guinea
se estaban comiendo los culantros.
No entendía por qué se marchitaba
el trigo que sembraba
y las chiltomas se morían
cundidas por mosca blanca.
Soñé con el sol bien bajito
pintándome con sudor y carbón un bigote.
A mis espaldas oía el hervor
de la olla de las quermeses de mi abuela
anunciando que llegarían mis primos
a tomar sopa de hueso con punche.
¡A ver el fresco de naranja agria
con mucho hielo!
Mi abuela echaba más quequisque
y me apartaba el ñervo sólo para mí.
Soñé que no eran las ramas del palo de limón
las que sonaban contra el zinc
sino las filosas garras
de los garrobos que nunca atrapamos.
Mi abuelo partía un coco con un machete
y le sacaba música a las canteras.
Llegaba mi mejor amigo
que ya murió en las protestas
a ofrecerme frutitas del árbol de las cuajaditas
y las capulinas que crecían por el cauce.
Soñé en la cárcel que era un niño
sembrado en el verano,
que hoy dejé mi celda
para jugar por siempre en ese patio.

✶✶✶✶

hanzel_lacayoHanzel Lacayo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, in December 1984. He attended the German Nicaraguan School and began writing poetry at age eight. He published his first book of poems when he was sixteen years old and since has published several collections of poetry as well as translations from German to Spanish. His published works include: Discrepancias (2000), A contenciones, conspiraciones (2006), Días de ira (2008), Hasta el fin (2011), Photography (2014), and El libro de las separaciones (2014),  as well as flash fiction collections: Maletas Ligeras (2012) and A cherry on top (2013). He has participated in various literary events and festivals, including the International Poetry Festival of Granada and #Los2000.

Diane-0032-2 pleaseDiane Kendig is a poet, translator, essayist, editor, and teacher. Her most recent of five poetry collections is Prison Terms and she co-edited In the Company of Russell Atkins. Forthcoming is Woman with a Fan, poems on the Spanish painter Maria Blanchard. A recipient of awards from the Ohio Arts Council, The Corporation of Yaddo, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright Program, Kendig taught in the Translation Department of Central American University in Managua, and for twenty years she directed the creative writing program at the University of Findlay, which included a prison writing program. Currently she curates, Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry, in its seventh year with over 4000 subscribers.

Steve-CaganSteve Cagan has been practicing activist photography since the mid-1970s. Major projects include: factory closings in Ohio; Indochina; Nicaragua; El Salvador; and Cuba; and “Working Ohio,” an extended portrait of working people. He’s currently working on a major project started in 2003, “El Chocó, Colombia: Struggle for Cultural and Environmental Survival,” on the threatened rain forest and human cultures there. He’s exhibited and published on four continents with awards including two Fulbright fellowships, Ohio Arts Council fellowships, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowships. He’s taught at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and is the co-author of This Promised Land, El Salvador, recipient of the 1991 Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Book Award from the Association for Humanist Sociology.