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In his second book of poetry, Richard Blanco explores the universal desire for home ("Should I live here? Could I live here?") through evocative narratives ("Today, home is a cottage with morning in the yawn of an open window"), playful musings ("what if I'm struck with Malta fever... dream of buying a little Maltese farm"), and lyrical power ("home is a forgotten recipe, a spice we can find nowhere, a taste we can never reproduce, exactly"). These poems take us on a relentless journey to Spain, Italy, France, Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, and New England as they examine the ideal of home and the connections we seek through place, culture, family, love, and art ("the stars, this life, always moving and still"). An essential connection for Blanco is his Cuban heritage and exilio, his work is steeped in it. There are visits to his aunts in Cuba ("glad that I've come to sit at their table, eat what their hands have made, listen to their songs"). Tia Ida's woes over the revolution ("everywhere there are precious things suggesting she has not given up on herself"), memories of his father ("Here, I am my father working the sugar mill, swimming in the valley swales"); and his own nostalgic longing for a life in Cuba ("everything is mine, and yet all I can keep is the bare, silent spaces between mountains, the pause between the rustle of every palm"). This is a volume for all who have longed for enveloping arms and words, and for that sanctuary called home. Blanco embraces juxtaposition: the Cuban Blanco, the American Richard; the engineer by day, the poet by heart; the rhythms of Spanish, the percussion of English; the first-world professional, the bohemian. And at the center of it all, the mortalspirit on a journey ("So much of my life spent like this--suspended, moving toward unknown places and names or returning to those I know, corresponding with the paradox of crossing, being nowhere yet here") and the precious, fleeting moments when he can write: "I am, for a
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