Lupita Eyde-Tucker

Twin Mango Tress, Ciudadela La Alborada—
I wasn’t present to witness their demise: didn’t hear the sawing off of limbs, can’t enumerate the days & hours it took to dismember and deface them from the earth—home to multiple species of birds, insects, lizards. I was present, though, when they stood two stories tall, arms stretched out over the Eternit roof of my grandparent’s house, highest trees in the leveled landscape of the ciudadela. Twin sentinels, they guided me while I explored the streets of la primera etapa on my bike. I was there then, craning to glimpse the fat mangoes sway high up on the unreachable branches, the mangoes we never ever ate, tree trunks too slick to climb. I watched as guacamayos devoured and dropped the excess mango meat and their fruity poop onto the hummus of the back patio. I was there to hear the birds’ cacophony of joy, bellies round with mango juice, to smell the rot of seed and fruit flesh that rained like brimstone. All that green-leafed luxury, festival of tail & feather, metropolis of miniature insect armies, wrestled to the ground one day by muscle & fist, whittled and chopped to waste. Subdued by concrete & cinder block, smoothed over by the mason’s trowel. In the blue-light glow of my laptop, I travel back to Manzana C, plug the house number into Google maps, and all I see is a crop of gray, like concrete kudzu. Someone watered that—called it progress. I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the glow projected onto the back of my eyelids to fade. Replay my own Kodachrome slideshow of scenes to cement their green in my mind.

Red Bank Station Plaint

Out of our beds, out of the cold embrace of trees, out of the warm embrace of spouses, out of seaside towns, out of our childhoods and summer loves, the train finds a rail. Splices a vein, lays track, a parallel bloodline. Thrumming and throbbing with a desire or need for a thing or things we cannot hold or hold back. Frigid dawn. We huddle on north-bound platforms, life-breath escaping before our eyes. Fists balled in pockets. Eyes braced against the beginning of another inescapable day. Body heat freezes behind our ears. Cashmere-coated briefcase bankers, gleaming haircuts and watches. Editors and managers massage cell phones to life. Hooded maintenance workers, service staff in white-black uniforms, and tweed-jacketed professors (their heads not yet full of thoughts), shuffle aboard the silent cars single file. Pulsing all good and all evil: the inevitable City that pulls and pushes away. Long throaty trills cast their spell: silver pan fluter leading the procession up the Jersey Coast Line. Every gate that opens is a gate that falls. Breathy metronome counting the beats of births and deaths.

Song of my leaving,
      Music of my leaving behind,

      In my 47th year, I cry at the rush of it,
   Drawing closed the zipper of a long black bag.
I step up to the train like an altar.
      I, too, enter like an offering

Lupita says, I’m a bass player at heart. Though I’ve never played the double bass, nor an electric bass guitar, that’s the instrument that I identify with in terms of musical performance. The thick strings of the double bass have always seemed like sinews to me, and maybe being a poet is my way of playing bass with words instead of musical notes.

In our dream band, on double bass:

Lupita Eyde-Tucker writes and translates poetry in English and Spanish. A native of New Jersey, she moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador at the age of twelve, where she fell in love with poetry in Spanish. She’s the winner of the 2021 Unbound Emerging Poet Prize and her poems have recently appeared in Women’s Voices for Change, Yemassee, Rattle, and [PANK]. Lupita is an MFA candidate in Poetry at The University of Florida. A Staff Scholar at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conferences, Lupita is also a recipient of a scholarship from the NY Summer Writer’s Institute. Read more of her poems here:

Acoustic Double Bass, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Stanley Clarke

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