Baila Morena

BY Jessica Mehta

It wasn’t all bad. I remember
the good, and it wasn’t in the big moments
(it never is). The year en Moravia whipped
me raw with the scaling Tico Spanish, 
the dirty buses and whistles trailing
from scooter saddles. But that quiet day 
the rain twisted my locks
into a frenzy and pressed the cotton closer
to your heart than I ever got—that

is our Costa Rica. Tucking into casadas
while the queso vendor across the street
shouted palmito specials to the downpour.
¡Aqui solo calidad le vendemos! The flies
hugged us close in the tiny soda
shop while Baila Morena lulled us all
into a stupor deeper than Imperial
could ever muster. We knew the palmito in the city
would never compare to the fresh wonder
balls sold in huts papered with banana leaves
along the winding rainforest back roads. 
You knew I was already half gone
by the urgency of my swallows. And I knew 
it would take years shrouded
in a different love, 
a different life,
to ever listen to that song again.

Jessica Mehta is the author of several books and currently a First Peoples Fund fellow. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and space, place, and ancestry inform much of her work. Find out more at

Image Credit: “Trip Map” by Nelson Lowhim
Read by Ed Robson

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