Manzanas de California

Reina María Rodríguez

Translated by Kristin Dykstra

A California apple costs thirty centavos.

A tiny apple that arrived in our port

as contraband. It fits inside a fist.

(I give it to my daughter.)

It’s sweet, yet acidic at the same time.

Like all true apples

it trades flavor for a price.

Young people will eat other things


The apple I don’t try

(and will not try) and don’t regret

was denied me at that age.

The agreement is sealed with other nations:

an apple in exchange for a heart.

Peace is made in foreign apples.

Who will take so many years of need and pain off our hands?

Apples astray in memory

weep green marrow.

Cavity by cavity, that seed

(in one’s mouth) tastes of a corrupted land,

of desperation.

Tree of the apple prohibited back then

(and preferred today):

yours is poor fruit!

Without the living apple in the basket,

where chewing is normally a gift,

how much do we cost now?

With no cures for this (political)

disease of eating when we’re allowed.

I squeeze the apple against my fist

and bring it to my daughter

so she won’t turn out like me.


*This poem is part of the book Resistencia: Poems of Protest and Revolution. Edited by Mark Eisner and Tina Escaja  

*Cover Image by Chris Gladis


Reina María Rodríguez is a Cuban poet, winner of the Pablo Neruda Latin American Prize, National Poetry Prize, among others.

Kristin Dykstra an American translator, winner of the 2020 PEN Translation Award

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