Between the Straits in '68


My Africa still exists in my mind
Small Spanish enclaves in the north
Ceuta and Melilla

My birth city launched Columbus’ wooden fleet
Father’s job in the US Navy
A trip aboard a cruise ship—my life at sea

I was less than three
The performers danced the decks
Flamenco celebrated on drinking glasses

This ship was steel
My parents, our maid, my stuffed toy and I
on a jaunt to Spanish and African territories

Ifni was too far for us
I, an anchor and a hinderance
Nearby Ceuta called across the straits, “Venga aqui, nino!“

Photos—me in sailor kit
My black stuffed Gibraltar toy monkey
“Mi ‘Mono’ y yo” in my infantile Spanish—inseparable 

My Spanish-born foot on African soil
Sunglasses shade from an African sun
A mere flash of a memory, a page flipped past.

*Venga aqui, nino!: Spanish for “Come here, child!” 

*Mi ‘Mono’ y yo: Spanish for “My ‘Mono’ and I”. Mono was the name of Paul’s toy monkey.