Cristo Negro de Portobelo

Darrel Alejandro Holnes

It’s when they see me naked that they finally believe
I’m from Panamá. The crucifix
hanging on my Black chest, underneath
the little hair I inherited from my father,
sweats as I perform what priests
and their laws call unnatural acts.
Only men grow body hair.
Only men are this dark and when
my hands finally darkened enough
to color even the blackest swans
I was sad to see them suddenly turn into wings,
plumed palms, hollow finger bones,
limp wrists. But then again, the struggle
of first flight against the moon’s night
can be a freedom beyond heaven and
its wanting eternity. So now
rebellion is my new religion
or something else romantic and American
like a crownless king, perhaps an immigrant one
atop a throne, in native disguise.

Beowulf Sheehan /