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where the same phenomenon of universality occurs.  For both poets, the African-American and the Hispanic, particular experience is shown to be universal.  The poetry and the prose of Cofer’s The Latin Deli are tailor-made for my own Cuban-American heart, and they also resonate deeply with a diverse audience.  

Cofer herself says this is her desire:  “Every time I give a reading, I hope the stories I tell, the dreams and fears I examine in my work, can achieve some universal truth which will get my audience past the particulars of my skin color, my accent, or my clothes” (154).  And she concludes “The Myth of the Latin American Woman” with more of her sophisticated humor:

I once wrote a poem in which I called us Latinas ‘God’s brown daughters.’

This poem is really a prayer of sorts, offered upward, but also, through the

human-to-human channel of art, outward.  It is a prayer for communication,

and for respect.  In it, Latin women pray ‘in Spanish to an Anglo God / with a

Jewish heritage,’ and they are ‘fervently hoping / that if not omnipotent, / at least

He be bilingual.’ (154)

In the cornfields of Macedonia, a small rural community where I was raised not far from Canton, Georgia, that prayer must have reached even the Southern single I was, the last of all my elementary-school girlfriends to marry and have children.  I applauded Cofer’s rejection that a man’s view of physical passion is always the correct one.  Once, a boorish beau kissed Cofer sloppily and then resented her insufficiently passionate response—he sputtered, “I thought you Latin girls were supposed to mature early [author’s emphasis].”  Cofer addresses that “mature” slur with instructive paronomasia:  “[This was] my first instance of being thought of as a fruit or vegetable—I was supposed to ripen, not just grow into womanhood like other girls” (151).  She uses this incident out of her life’s history to show that that Caucasian idea of “mature” is based

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