Calle Ocho y el Mundo

by Sophia Falber

-after a mural of Celia Cruz by Alejandra Seda, 2021

Her name in all its glory:
Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso.
Taking space:
on the page,
on the wall,
on the stage.

A voice that echoed
from her classroom in Cuba
through radios worldwide,
through concert halls across countries.
Her sonic cry.

Defeating cultural conquistadores,
who believed a black woman had no place
being La Sonora’s singer.
She refused their limitations
and let loose the beat within her.

On Calle Ocho in Miami,
she is painted
mouth wide, singing.
Her tooth gap for everyone to see,
mid-song, smiling.

Azúcar!
Sugar.
Her signature word.
Life is sweet.
Haven’t you heard?
La vida es un carnaval.
Dance through it.
This is how she is remembered:
joyous and
untempered
Caribbean colors.
Skin shining.
Humble heart.
Grateful grin.
Memories that could never fall apart.

They don’t paint her realizing her visit to her dying mother,
was rejected for not supporting Castro’s Cuba.
They don’t paint her hair loss from the sickness.
They paint her in her wigs, bright and big.
Those paintings depict her power, her witness.

La reina was here, and she still is.
A voice for the voiceless island,
from which she was banned
unable to return, she gathered
grams of Cuban sand.

Those grains joined her in her grave.
A perk of a U.S performance
in Guantanamo Bay.
Though not in Cuban soil,
she is here to stay.

Celia, her legacy,
and the mark that it made.
Her face on Calle Ocho,
sharing Cuba’s truth
to todo el mundo.

 

 

Sophia Falber is an 18-year-old writer living in Tampa, Florida. After earning her AA degree, Sophia became a student of Flagler College’s English and Film Department. Sophia particularly enjoys writing poetry that showcases her Cuban heritage and discusses mental health and social justice.

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