plucked from the folds of my skirt
and perfumed with citrus and sweat.

Behind me, las cabras and my cousins
calling baaaa-baaaa-baaaa.

In front, foggy glass pitcher
of sugar water in her hands.

I want to steal a lemon, feel the sting
of spring on my pursed lips.

Want to see her, squeezing
fruit again. Her, filling

the pitcher. Her, filling
each of our glasses to the brim.

—Li Yun Alvarado, Ph.D., GSAS ’09, ’15

About this Poem

My brother and I spent our summers with our extended family in Puerto Rico when we were kids. My grandparents had a limón tree in their backyard, and beyond the yard’s chain link fence there was a huge field full of goats that my cousins, brother, and I would spend hours imitating. I wrote this poem to honor Mama Merida, who passed away in 2007, and the many happy memories we had in that backyard. This poem has even more significance for me now that my papi, Jun Alvarado, has joined Mama Merida after he passed away in December.

The author with her grandmother. (Photo courtesy of Li Yun Alvarado)

About the Author

Li Yun Alvarado is the author of Words or Water (Finishing Line Press, 2016). She earned a Ph.D. in English at Fordham, where she also served as the graduate assistant for the Poets Out Loud reading series. A native New Yorker, she lives in California and takes frequent trips to Salinas, Puerto Rico, to visit la familia.