ma says we cant take flowers to papi’s grave this year

by Deverly Perez
 december 4th over 21 years

they buried you in
 Talpa even
 though you lived
 in Tijuana with us
 you were not even buried
 in your home town
 but in the closest city
 to El Llano Alto
 the 17-person village you grew up in
 and if i know one thing
 it is that your spirit wouldnt be caught dead walking in Talpa

 taking the taxi
            the    bus
 is hard enough alone
   with 2 toddlers
 it is impossible

 she begs me to have a
 with the dress
 the church service the
 even the father-daughter waltz
 she is putting our lives in cardboard boxes
   taped and neatly labeled
 with too-thin painter’s tape
   but one
 is missing a label
 and left outside the apartment
 as we pack up the car to drive north
   but before we leave
 in orange crayon
 i write your name on it
 mami buys me gold helium                                 balloons
 and tía makes my favorite cake chocolate
   with coffee frosting
              also your favorite that night
 i go into the kitchen and cut a piece for you
   and place it on my nightstand
 as an offering
   as a sorry
 she says my stepdad’s dad passed away
   we have to go to his funeral
 but she doesnt say stepdad
   she says dad
 she forgets
              he is not my dad and
                like his dad
                          my dad is dead too
 i spent the day laying
   on the twin xl in my
   dorm room
 two thousand eight hundred sixty nine
 from where you lay
 i didn’t ask this year
   and 3 days later
 mom sent flowers for my birthday

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