Monday, May 12, 2008

Toast for a thing named love…

By Hiram José Irizarry Osorio, Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute

“I toast for the woman, but for one, for the one that offered me her raptures and wrapped me in her kisses; for the woman who lulled me to sleep in the cradle.

“For the woman who taught me as a child the value of exquisite, deep, and real fondness; for the woman who lulled me to sleep in her arms and who gave me in pieces, one by one, the entire heart.”

These are a few of the last strophes of a long poem entitled in Spanish “El brindis del bohemio”. In this poem, a series of male friends take turns toasting the end of another year in a bar. The translated strophes included here are delivered by the last of these bohemians. In contradistinction to his preceding toasters, he decides to toast for that particular and important women of his life: his Mother.

This poem is recited every December 31st (on TV and radio) in Puerto Rico. It was not written by a Puerto Rican, but I do remember when growing up, our New Year’s Eve family parties came to a complete stop to listen to low-pitched baritone voiced men reciting this poem. As a child, and even until recently, I did not give much thought to it. More than anything else, this poem’s reciting felt like a nuisance to me and an interruption of the good times I was having with my cousins, because of the need to stop playing and listen to a bunch of old men talking around a table, reading -incomprehensible words for me. In other words, I was always looking forward to its end (and it was a long wait because the poem is quite long). I felt no connection whatsoever with the subject matter of this poem: a bunch of bohemians toasting about their female adventures, with the exception of the last one, toasting in remembrance of his dead mother.

Why do I write about this? I do so because yesterday in many countries in the world (although not all of course), Mothers’ Day was celebrated.

A day like today, a mother that needed to suffer the lost of a son one day after Mother’s Day in 1981 was Cedella Marley Booker. Bob Marley passed away on Monday May 11, 1981. Because of this, I would like to close this entry with a quote from him: “Overcome the devils with a thing named love”.

Would we be able to do so? Would we be able to embrace love and transcend those socially constructed divisions that are so real, while imagined? That is for us to decide and do, but in the meantime let us toast for that nature’s “monster” of love and caring (like Lope de Vega was once called, “el monstruo de la naturaleza”, for his creative and prolific literary genius): Mothers.

“Mama,” this is my treat to you from afar (now empathizing a bit more with that last bohemian because of the geographic distance between us while living): I love you. Let the work toward justice continue once we have re-fueled and embraced motherly love…

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic piece. It's my favorite Kirwan post so far. I can't wait to read the whole poem.