Ode to a Freckle

There are days she tells me it’s grown since I’ve moved,

the freckle above my left brow. You taught me


how to make it bigger, I say, remembering

my mother’s face close to the mirror,


mornings before church, brown pencil in hand

filling in the mole above her lip.


There was a day I was born upside-down,

speck left over on my forehead,


the only bare lip to inherit her blood.

There were days I’d take a crayon to my face,


play god, create pigment where it didn’t exist.

There were days she would sing Cielito Lindo,


Ay ay ay ay, to her reflection.

There were days I would beg, Mamí,


bésame como la novela, asking for the frenzy

kiss of Juan Carlos and his mistress that I saw her watch on TV


while she folded my cotton briefs.

There were days, I wanted her hands at the base of my neck,


wanted to toss my head side to side in what looked like love,

freckle on my lip finally.


I didn’t understand then, those kisses

weren’t meant for me, those kisses


would come.

Instead, she blessed my freckle with her mouth,


forehead to lip, lunar a lunar, kissing

where lovers would kiss me, my skin


receiving the dot where lovers

and husbands kissed her. Oh,


the weight of a hundred lips in that moment.


There are nights that we fill in our moons, mine

here in Brooklyn, hers in Boston, as she falls


asleep to Don Francisco.

I darken the spot, make it full, mimic her skin.


No se lo des a nadie, cielito lindo—

I sing advice to my face.


Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, a Squaw Valley Community of Writers fellow, and Associate Poetry Editor for BOAAT. Her book Ugly Music, forthcoming from YesYes Books, was chosen for the 2017 Pamet River Prize. Winner of the Bodega Poetry Contest, her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems can be found in Day One, Vinyl, Split Lip Magazine, Cosmonauts Avenue, Reservoir, and elsewhere. Her heart is in Brooklyn.