I was ten years old when I read about the boy
whose mother drowned in the ocean.
It was in the Scholastic News—
the aluminum boat leaving Cuba,
the shipwreck, the 10 more dead with her,
the boy floating on an inner tube until rescued by fishermen.
His face was on the front page of the magazine
and I wanted to kiss his paper cheek. His name
is Elián and today he turns 23.
My mother shows me a picture
of his mother. She is beautiful in the way
all mothers were in the 90s—
all bangs, high-waisted jersey shorts.
And I don’t know what it is to lose a mother
yet. I won’t see her scoop water from a sinking boat.
My mother came here
on a plane and I thank a god. A different
island, a different year, a baby girl,
not me, in her arms.
Elián went back to Cuba.
And I have never visited the island I’m from.
And I feel like a bitch.
Because all I did was read a story
Then retell it on this page.