In my old neighborhood
the cucaracha cart
came twice daily
proclaiming what I already knew
that food and gathering
superseded me
and my need for industry.


On my last day
vacuuming the dust
from the dim corners
I finally gave in
to the afternoon guy
and got shaved ice
and a bag of chilied pork rinds.
They stained my tongue blue
and my palms sallow
like a surgical scrub.


The girls next door
normally wary
asked me if I was leaving
and the elderly couple upstairs
like my own grandparents
said they would miss me.
Twice in twelve months
I tried my Spanish on them
while they smiled, squinting.
Maybe the next gringa
would smoke too much
or load the courtyard
with white folks
but I was quiet.


Leaving my first studio
I had second thoughts
and since then ten million.
I’m surrounded by industry
but none of it is free.
I drive by on my way to dinner
and peer at the building
in hopes of seeing
my kitchen
my dripping faucet
my roach traps
my barred back window.


Ten days after I’d left
I remembered the full-length mirror.
I still think about it.
During a communion party
I screwed it into the door myself
no help to hold it still
the corner digging
into my thigh
bruising it
music thumping
through my window
as I turned the screw.


Join the conversation