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Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100

BY MARTÍN ESPADA

 for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local l00, working     at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

 1windows

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head  

and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,  

a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,  

the harbor of pirates centuries ago.  

Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle  

glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.  

Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap  

worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane  

that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,  

for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.  

Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked  

even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish  

rose before bread…

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