If We Didn’t Need to Win, Then What?

THE HISTORY OF FLEETS

 

Manuel Maria

always blinks tightly

 

with both eyes,

then opens wide

 

like he has

a startling

piece of news,

 

or is waiting for it.

 

I still don’t understand

why his second name

 

is Maria. An

American thinks

 

macho means

so many things

 

that it isn’t.

 

He brings out the busty statue

of his wife’s great grandfather:

 

An admiral and commander

of the Spanish naval fleet,

 

he sailed to Santiago

to break the blockade.

 

Now, he is a Spanish

hero. And Manuel is

 

so proud of his wife.

He says her family

is so connected

or important?

 

That they even print a newsletter.

Back then, Spain

wanted Cuba,

 

and now Manuel looks

at night for his wife.

 

She goes about sleeping

while he turns the pages

 

of beaten words that antes,

had so much longing.

I come on Tuesdays

to sit down with Manuel

 

and our languages,

these new ways of

 

wanting to say something

we think we’ve said before.

 

Today is a history lesson

about the sea,

 

and the people you can conquer

with a famous fleet.

 

As he crafts and molds

his words, I wish I could hear

 

the melody of El Andalus,

or understand a political uniquity.

 

I wish I couldn’t

see his pain before me,

 

or the long, bloody sea

stretching out for spaces

 

that wars and

fleets won’t win.

 

-Jennifer Sandberg