There Was a Rumba Playing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

June 17, 2015

There was a rumba playing
in the restaurant you took me –
where the menus were stained
with grease, and men with slick
voices talked of home-before-Castro
and cigar smoke made
my throat burn.

There was a rumba playing
when a man who did not ask
our names placed a plastic basket
of chips before us. He brought us
drinks with salt on the rims
without asking about our parents,
and when you touched my thigh
beneath the table
he pretended not to see.

There was a rumba playing
and we leaned back in the black
leather seats, where we were
invisible, and you put your
arm around me and you
whispered, soft like the edges
of a lace fan, that I was
your-baby-girl.

There was a rumba playing
but you did not
ask me to dance. You
kissed my lips, my neck –
you slid the strap of my dress
off of my shoulder. I bit my lip
but you did not
ask my permission.

There was a rumba playing
not from a band, but from a
radio behind the counter.
You did not
tell me you loved me. You
said nothing, but smiled
and smoked the cigars
your father told you not to.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the October 2015 Teen Ink Poetry Contest.






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