Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Thicker Than Country

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Bethel’s Richard Blanco, who read his poetry at President Obama’s second inauguration last January, will appear at the Strand Theatre in Rockland on July 17. In today’s column he offers a love poem.

Thicker Than Country by Richard Blanco

A Cuban like me living in Maine? Well,
what the hell, Mark loves his native snow
and I don’t mind it, really. I love icicles,
even though I still decorate the house
with seashells and starfish. Sometimes
I want to raise chickens and pigs, wonder
if I could grow even a small mango tree
in my three-season porch. But mostly,
I’m happy with hemlocks and birches
towering over the house, their shadows
like sundials, the cool breeze blowing
even in the summer. Sometimes I miss
the melody of Spanish, a little, and I play
Celia Cruz, dance alone in the basement.
Sometimes I miss the taste of white rice
with picadillo—so I cook, but it’s never 
as good as my mother’s. I don’t miss her
or the smell of her Cuban bread as much
as I should. Most days I wonder why, but
when Mark comes home like an astronaut
dressed in his ski clothes, or I spy him
planting petunias in the spring, his face
smudged with this earth, or barbequing
in the summer when he asks me if I want
a hamberg or a cheezberg as he calls them—
still making me laugh after twelve years—
I understand why the mountains here
are enough, white with snow or green
with palms, mountains are mountains,
but love is thicker than any country. 

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright &copy 2012 Richard Blanco. Reprinted from Looking for The Gulf Motel, University of Pittsburg Press, 2012, by permission of Richard Blanco. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com 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.