"Love Letter to Octavio" by Erika Ayon

Erika Ayon - Love Letter to Octavio

Octavio Paz, I did the unspeakable,
I tore a poem from one of your poetry books at the library.
It was an impulse thing, my library card was in my wallet.
I did not care that there were witnesses;
the man with the gold framed glasses in the next aisle,
the librarian with the curly bob.
I read the poem and felt you were speaking to me.
I was the niña in the poem who cried, who prayed,
whose skies turned into battlefields.
I tore it as a desire to have you, to take you with me.
I had never fallen in love with a poem, with a poet,
like I fell in love with you that day.
If you must know, I still have the ripped poem,
I keep it in a secret place as if it were a love letter.

The year was 1998, I was sixteen, attending High School
in El Sereno, and you were in Mexico, dying of cancer.
I imagined you overlooking the landscape of Mexico,
and the way the mountains murmured in the distance,
you sipping dark coffee, your wife Marie-José behind you,
her arms holding you like a rebozo.
Poems circle above your head like crows.

Years later, I sent a copy of the book to the library,
the library that had been my safe haven in my teens,
no return address, just a blue post it with the word 'donation,"
all the pages intact. By that time, I had learned
to let go of poetry, I no longer felt like a young girl,
I was a woman writing my own poems down,
before the wind blew them away

Erika Ayon shared her poem with Departures in participation with National Poetry Month. Since not included in that project, we showcased her selection in our community poems section. We thank Erika for her contribution in celebration and understanding of L.A. You are invited to share yours as well.


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