Mark Smith-Soto

Tomorrow, Yesterday

Back when the future was firmly in its place
before Merrilee died and before Phoebe
her cat died, before my Uncle Marschall
died and before my mother, but after

my father died and my grandmothers and
my grandfather that I walked with in Alajuela
who loosened his belt and whistled playing
solitaire, after hateful Joaquín died but

before complicated much-missed Isabel
and long before Aída with her laughing
mean face and bony fingers, in the time
of Beth and Juanito and Johnny and sun

and wind caught in a bottle, and the fig tree
loaded hard and green against the side
of the house, and the mornings loaded
with the hunger of birds and the world loaded,

before Nureyev and Rock Hudson but after
Marilyn, back when the future was firmly
in its place and hangovers were worth it
and sex glittered in the air and shone

in our sinuses and to sneeze was to come
in a small way because we were going
to eat Camembert in the shadow of Chartres
and we were going to eat roast pork in Chinchón

and we were going to walk under the red
Alicante moon, holding hands, how innocent,
under the aged-Gouda moon, we were going
all the way, when the future was in its place

instead of where it's slinking now, hang-dog,
dog-eared, smelling of days lost in some hole
never to be dug up again, the lovely hunger gone,
the figs, the long sweet breath of tomorrow.

                         Reprinted from the spring 2000 issue of
                         The Kenyon Review.

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Costa Rican-American author Mark Smith-Soto is professor of Romance Languages, editor of International Poetry Review and Director of the Center for Creative Writing in the Arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Winner of a 2005 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing, he has published two full-length poetry collections to date, Our Lives Are Rivers (University Press of Florida, 2003), and Any Second Now (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.,
2006).  His manuscript Waiting Room was published in December, 2008, as the winner of Red Mountain Review's annual chapbook competition, and his bilingual edition of the selected poetry of Costa Rican writer Ana Istarú, Fever
, was published this spring by Unicorn Press.


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