Essay on Synonyms for Tender and a Confession
—For Sandra María Esteves
Color it all blue.
My father and my father’s father and his.
And all of us in one suitcase that hasn’t been opened.
I haven’t been opened.
And I say to my father,
I want to be all pink. For one day.
To name each part of me after the names of my mother’s lovers,
To throw my head back and dance like someone pretty,
or just hold the shame in my hand.
And sometimes this doesn’t stop me.
My name a two-hundred-year-old word for Please.
As in, please let me open the suitcase.
As in, please let me play whatever is inside.
And sometimes my name talks to me.
It says, you ain’t shit.
It says I could send you flowers but what’s the point
if they will still be flowers when you get them.
It says even the priests are lonely.
It comes to me as one priest confessing to another:
Marcelo, I want the red dress
and to throw my hair up real beauty queen style.
If I’m lonely, put the bright birds back in their cages.
Marcelo, I wanted a gun.
I’m not ready to be dipped in water.
Like you, like a father.
And so I opened the lid
and held each flute inside like shattered glass.
But there was no song, there was hardly any glitter.
And the priest who is no longer Marcelo,
and the flute which is no longer Marcelo,
and the lover who is.
I don’t know what it means to name a child.
When he said my name, I opened his eyes.
I played the song.
Neither of us knew how it ended.
We would have paid anything at all to make it stop.
From Cenzontle (BOA Editions, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.