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27 Bones

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The air on the plane is dry
I sip stale coffee
from a paper cup
Your hands look old
my daughter says.

Abuela left Cuba in a plane
to marry her love in New Orleans.
These hands will never wash
or dust or cook
, he told her.

Years of bleach and Palmolive
left delicate lines and folds
papered across the whorls of her knuckles,
the backs of her sun-mottled hands.
Her nails were always tapered, polished.

In Cuba, we had evenings
to dance in our frills
the band played so late
we walked
beautiful ladies waved
from their balconies
to their novios below.
We had a finca
I remember the chickens
It was so hot I thought I’d help
I plucked one live to cool her off
qué pecado
She died
I remember our cook’s buñuelos
tan rico
sweet anise syrup dripping
and always a cafecito
Mama sent me to art school
Did you know that a frog has 50 bones?
I had to draw them all by memory

And sabías que a hand has 27?

I don’t know what else
she drew
I can’t ask anymore.

Cathy Socarras Ferrell is a second-generation Cuban-American poet, writer, and educator from Central Florida. She finds inspiration in walking (anywhere), family, and the Sandhill cranes in her yard. She enjoys playing with form, space, and the sounds of language. Her work can be found online at Poetry Breakfast (upcoming), Red Noise Collective, Quibble.Lit, sinkhole, and Compulsive Reader, and in the scholarly collection, Shakespeare and Latinidad, edited by Trevor Boffone and Carla Della Gotta. Connect with Cathy at