Even in the dark, I’m ashamed of my lemon breasts,
my peach-fuzzed midsection. I want to go back
home to my father. To my bed with the threadbare
blanket, the hand-carved cross over the headboard.
I want a God-fearing man, hands roughed by fields.
Augusto is a pretty boy with a new blue bicycle.
He rides into the next town, buys all the things
my mother assures me will make for a good life.
But the patch of blood on the bed sheets promises
different, promises thorns no bread or gold can dull.
In America, I’m a maid at the Ramada , I
rent an apartment on Market Street. Broken English
and bad fruit. Pigeons as pets. My two children
in a one-bedroom. A Technicolor TV with antennas
sky-high. Double-locked doors. Barred windows.
An ironbound city, the unfamiliar cacophony: honks
of trailer horns, the bloody spur of factory smoke,
the brandied laughter of construction workers. I try
to sing the lullaby I’d hum to my brothers in the dark
over the news anchor’s Más lluvia para mañana!
Tonight, my granddaughter sits in my kitchen
and considers the importance of bloodlines, waits
for the words to pop like champagne grapes.
Blood from my veins into her veins
until we are both blue with life. Outside, the song
gulls sing as they look for food separates the wind
from the hymn of pine needles. She writes a poem
to remember me, to remember it all— sweat and tears,
Portuguese ancestry, and of course, blood, to run roots
through my future great-granddaughter’s bones.
by Maria Carreira
from Acentos Review