Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Today Richard Blanco of Bethel describes his dream of America as a boy living in Cuba.

When I was a Little Cuban Boy

By Richard Blanco

O José can you see…that’s how I sang it, when I was

a cubanito in Miami, and América was some country

in the glossy pages of my history book, someplace

way north, everyone white, cold, perfect. This Land

is my Land, so why didn’t I live there, in a brick house

with a fireplace, a chimney with curlicues of smoke.

I wanted to wear breeches and stockings to my chins,

those black pilgrim shoes with shiny gold buckles.

I wanted to eat yams with the Indians, shake hands

with los negros, and dash through snow I’d never seen

in a one-horse hope-n-say? I wanted to speak in British,

say really smart stuff like fours core and seven years ago

or one country under God, in the visible. I wanted to see

that land with no palm trees, only the strange sounds

of flowers like petunias, peonies, impatience, waiting

to walk through a door someday, somewhere in God

Bless America and say, Lucy, I’m home, honey. I’m home.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2005 Richard Blanco. Reprinted from “Directions to the Beach of the Dead,” The University of Arizona Press, 2005, by permission of Richard Blanco. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at [email protected] or (207) 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.