Lifting the Emotional Embargo

Taking My Cousin’s Photo at the Statue of Liberty

February 1, 2017

The new year has begun with the struggle to support the rights of immigrants and refugees in the United States. At such a moment, we thought Richard’s poem to his cousin, written when she recently arrived in the United States, would be good reading for all who seek to understand the meaning of bridges between identities and places.

Photo credit:

Taking My Cousin’s Photo at the Statue of Liberty
for Roxana

May she never miss the sun or the rain in the valley
trickling from Royal palms, or the plush red earth,
or the flutter of sugarcane fields and poincianas, or
the endless hem of turquoise sea around the island,
may she never remember the sea or her life again
in Cuba selling glossy postcards of the revolution
and El Che to sweaty Germans, may she never forget
the broken toilet and peeling stucco of her room
in a government-partitioned mansion dissolving
like a sand castle back into the Bay of Cienfuegos,
may she never have to count the dollars we’d send
for her wedding dress, or save egg rations for a cake,
may she be as American as I wanted to be once, in love
with its rosy-cheeked men in breeches and white wigs,
with the calligraphy of our Liberty and Justice for All,
our We The People, may she memorize all fifty states,
our rivers and mountains, sing “God Bless America”
like she means it, like she’s never lived anywhere
else but here, may she admire our wars and our men
on the moon, may she believe our infomercials, buy
designer perfumes and underwear, drink Starbucks,
drive a Humvee, and have a dream, may she never
doubt America, may this be her country more than
it is mine when she lifts her Diet Coke like a torch
into the June sky and clutches her faux Chanel purse
to her chest, may she look into New York Harbor
for the rest of her life and hold still when I say, Smile.

  • Richard Blanco

Email Bridges to Cuba

Ruth Behar, author and creator of Bridges to Cuba
Richard Blanco, poet and creator of Bridges to Cuba
Macondo: A Homeland for Writers


  1. miriam abrahams

    Absolutely beautiful and touching my Cuban heart and soul


    Wonderful words, helpful and hopeful. THANK YOU

  3. BB


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