Tranquil waters are their favorite haunts
frog–skinned, flame–eyed, cat–toothed trolls.
Seen only at dawn, they sit on rocks
smoothing their long red hair with golden combs.
Some are winged, others dance, some will steal, others laugh —
they can be part bird or part monkey.
The most feared are part manatee–mermaid, a dangerous mixture
for men who fall in the water, and then fall in love.
About the Author: Margarita Engle is a botanist, agronomist, and the Cuban–American author of Singing to Cuba (Arte Publico Press), Skywriting (Bantam), and The Poet–Slave of Cuba: A Biography in Poems of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt, April 2006), a Junior Library Guild Selection. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Caribbean Writer, Thema, and Word Wings, a collection of poems for children (Elin Grace Publishing). Her most recent book The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt, 2006) is a beautiful biography told in verse of a remarkable Cuban poet born into slavery in 1797.
"Los Güijes" copyright © 2006 by Margarita Engle. The poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.