The Fountain of My Youth

On the way to a new life in
la Florida
we made a stop in Saint Augustine
oldest city in our America
A side trip to visit la
Fortaleza de San Marcos
the striped lighthouse
cobblestoned plaza
and of course
Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth

A teenager, I didn’t want youth
I wanted the age when I would
be free
Go out and stay out
long as the night
Drive, drink, drink and drive
The unearned freedom of adults
Still it was intriguing …
Could the waters restore,
Preserve, rejuvenate?

Fantasy, history, myth
emblazoned on billboards
I remember a long narrow lane
shaded by strange, massive trees
their canopy touching overhead
Spanish moss making mysterious
the old roadside attraction
Everything old
A crumbling, putrid well
No fountain at all
Was de Leon as disappointed as I?

Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés was born in New Jersey to Cuban parents. Her debut collection of stories, Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles (Ig Publishing, 2009), was followed by Everyday Chica, winner of the 2010 Longleaf Press Poetry Chapbook award. She recently published a new collection of stories, Oye, What I’m Gonna Tell You. She lives in Orlando, Florida, where she teaches literature and writing at the University of Central Florida.
*Photo courtesy of museseeker.
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