Abecedarian in which la Chillona uses her words

by Elena Ramirez-Gorski


Abuelo asks me whenever I cry are you a man or a mouse

but Abuela knows I am neither    I am mother    of everything    of each

caterpillar collected in paper cup    of all the baby

dandelion heads popped prematurely from 

each milky blooded stem-neck    I’ll

funeral each and every one of them 

give a sandbox burial and ten

Hail Marys at least    I’ll pray for every

innocent and voiceless soft-souled thing 

just like Abuela and her tortillas swaddled in

kitchen towels until they taste

like lavender baby wash    just like each storybook

mouse and bunny I kiss goodnight on their watercolor

noses    just like all the pinto beans I sort

one by one on the plastic-lined kitchen table    making a 

pile for the ugly ones    the shriveled ones    even my

querido dirtclumps and pebbles are special and deserving and

reserved for loteria    I am the mother of the whole card (la

Sirena    el Soldado    la Dama    el Borracho) and love

them all the same (even if el Valiente doesn’t call home so much) and

unconditionally    they’re allowed to cry    I’d never force them to raise their

voice over the music    stand in front of the whole party    apologize 

when one of their caterpillars falls from cup and bloodbursts beneath Tía

Ximena’s heel (who doesn’t apologize, never loved that caterpillar, only cries over its mess)

yes I always answer man but want to be the mouse (paper    soft    sipping tea) or muñeca or her 

zapatitos or bottle or its milk    disappearing when tilted into dollmouth    thank god    it 



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