medical history

By Jo Reyes-Boitel

for Delhi


a lot of our history is gone, let’s be honest –

when your family has been in four countries in three generations

the nonessential is quickly cast off


and for those remaining who carry our names

some are too strong willed to allow love

while others correct this by loving too much


we have our small failures:

the mismatched ears,

lion’s hair, thick and unruly,

horse teeth behind big lips,

feet with more problems than can be mentioned here


our diets vary dependent on country and access:

rabbit stew in sofrito or sopa de platano or boiled potatoes

but not matter what the outcome

we won’t be changing our food

– no matter what any doctor says –

until we decide


we are strong to the last

defying even doctors’ prognoses


but problems can arise at the body’s meridians

our breasts with a mind of their own

our shoulders cramp as we lean into conversation

hips and thighs shake even when we are still

our mind always resonating some desire


our hearts beat despite blockages

the rhythm of our lost homes generated within

the solid, good wood of its muscle

our shaded hearts unfurling themselves

without asking for lucidity


our brains continue to plan the next day,

even if it means moving ideas around the damage

our very bodies work to destroy themselves,

to tear down in search of the summoning beat of long ago,

our body practiced in holding high expectations


we walk

the value of our journey goading us

the need to continue rooted in spirit


there are fewer of us now

so it’s more important than ever

remember for me

for yourself

for those who follow


Jo Reyes-Boitel : writer, motivator/supporter, mother, daughter to oya and obatala, rabid music listener, percussionist and lover. texas transplant, by way of minnesota | florida | mexico | cuba.