When Miguelito Should Have Been Sleeping
and his tías de México and his mother gathered around
the kitchen table, stories drifting toward his room
like cafecito vapor, he leaned against his door to listen.
When he first heard about how his orphaned grandmother
was her own godmother’s criada, how she would fall asleep
while scrubbing los pinche pisos—knees and knuckles
tired and raw from scratching against the cracked
clay floor—he imagined himself standing
next to his grandmother’s child-body: limp limbs, ragged-
heavy like a drenched mop’s clothed tentacles;
he imagined himself ordering the opening of the earth,
¡Ábrete! ¡Ábrete, trágatela ahora cuando está dormida! *
When he heard how his grandfather would shove a kicking
and screaming laughter into a plastic bag on those days
he left to work on foreign lands, but leave his daughters
without half a giggle because Miguelito’s grandfather
would need laughter more, he imagined himself
waiting for his grandfather’s hurried stride. He imagined
flinging himself toward the thick plastic, tearing it open
with a fork to let laughter bounce back into the bellies
of children because what are children without laughter?
When he learned how Fausto, the catechist, would lure children
into praying un “Padre nuestro” while their fathers were leaving
one by one, he wondered why his tías would say, Dios lo bendiga.**
But when he first heard about his mother clubbing
the neighbor’s stray pig to death when she was a child,
he wept, but not for the pig.
by Yaccaira Salvatierra
from Rattle Magazine #51, Spring 2016
*Open up! Open yourself, trap it now when you are asleep!
**God bless you