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when she died

when she died, i might have been eating churros out of a white paper bag licking the cinnamon
sugar crumbs from my fingers and the corners of my            cherry mouth, she called it
or i might have been sitting in front of our family computer listening to a song about
nightswimming           or         stolen hearts and         aching to feel these things too

the thing is, i don’t know.

god forbid anything interrupt the forward march of               My Bright Future
god forbid anything drown out my father’s retelling of our pilgrimage, the seeds of our origin
story as American as the megaphone solicitations of Mexico City’s junk vendors
“estufas, lavadoras, microndas…”                 (stoves, washing machines, microwaves) 

when she died, she might have lay under a thin sheet in an overrun hospital sweating or shivering
browbeaten by a son with the gambling and the alcohol and the women     or          aching for the
daughter who left in an airplane one spring morning and never looked back

the thing is, i’ll never know.

god forbid anything tip fortune’s scales against my favor, my mother’s tut-tut while knocking on
our antique table, a penny glinting-heads-up in the crack of a sidewalk, two eagles tearing each
other apart midair
god forbid anything poison the fruit               borne of generations              nested in a Russian
doll of dreams

when she died, she might have reminded herself that to live is to suffer or asked herself, “is this
what a life is?,” as my grandfather with the crooked back and the disintegrating nerve cells held
her burning forehead and her cold hand

i spent four forgotten years with her
before i knew my mother                   before i knew what it was to have a mother

but the thing is,           i was finally ready for harvest.



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