Platanal, 1974, by Myrna Báez


Considering Myrna Báez’s painting Platanal, E. Carmen Ramos explains, “When Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony, artists like Francisco Oller depicted the plantain as both a key accoutrement to the jibaro (rural peasant) and a metaphor for the island’s independent cultural identity.”

Plantain trees gather at the edge
of the orchard, clamor for light

in the foreground. They seem to grow
as one, as if they’d fill the field

and the mountains behind them,
leaves large and frayed. We stood

there, once, or someplace like it, so
here we are again, it seems,

years later, branches leaning over
the road, you in your long skirt,

looking out as if to recall something
you meant to do. My country, I hear

you say still. But if that’s dusk
in the hills, you know what’s

coming to the field. You’ll stand
among them till there’s nothing left

to see. I’ll wait beside you, though
I don’t know what we’re waiting for.
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Platanal by Myrna Báez, gift of  Jaime Fonalledas.
Source: Poetry (March 2016)
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