Tío Pancho’s Farewell

By Sonia María Quiñones

Last night our kitchen made music.
I think it was you, Tío Pancho, singing
in the language of dishes and spoons.

Steel pots carried the bass, their meter quirky, slightly askew,
but the tines shimmied a swinging tune.
Last night our kitchen made music,

reminding my father of island stories:
tales of spirits that signal their comings and goings
by speaking in the language of dishes and spoons.

Glass keens in their presence,
and light shatters when they leave.
Last night our kitchen made music,

silver chiming, swallowing light. Were you that stranger
in the winsome dark, murmuring tales of passing
in the language of dishes and spoons?

Were we your first farewell, Tío Pancho?
It’s not fair. I wasn’t ready to hear you go.
Last night you made music, salsa rhythms,
one last beat, in the language of dishes and spoons.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/10/t-o-pancho-s-farewell/306046/