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LA ÑAPA

In Dominican Spanish la ñapa refers to "the little extra" added on at the end. Just when you thought you'd gotten all that you would get, along comes your ñapa, like a baker's dozen, with one more kiss, one more pastelito, one more mango at the mercado.

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Maury,
beloved sister, devoted mama, dazzling friend, noble-hearted human(e) being, died on February 27, 2015. She was sixty-five.

She was the oldest of "the four girls," as we were always known.
Years ago (1979) I wrote a long poem, "The Four Girls,"
which included sections about the individual sisters.

The opening and closing of "Maury" section follows.

Julia & Maury -- 62 years ago
Julia & Maury -- 62 years ago

Maury

In a snapshot of you and me as toddlers
we are sitting on the lawn, you are picking
apart, petal by petal, a flower. I peer over
your shoulder, keeping count, learning
how it's done, how there will always be
those who love us, those who do not
love us enough, or, I suppose, at all.
The first child, you endured the slow
invasion, your inheritance divided by four;
yellow, your color, after a rainbow of choice.
I was the first encroachment in your loves,
picking up your petals, carding the flowers
you had discarded. . . In a sense,
I have always been "the artist,"
for nothing ever came to me whole. . .
***
You've gone off, leaving me to wander
the world without you,
eking out a bit of identity, picking up stems
you tossed away, bunching petals on them,
loves me, loves me not, loves me, loves me
not, as if there were a right answer,
as if I could ever make over
one of your flowers.
Julia Alvarez
April 13, 2015
Copyright © Julia Alvarez 2015.
All rights reserved. No further duplication, downloading or
distribution permitted without written agreement of the author
(please contact my agent, Stuart Bernstein).
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