I could bore you with the sunset, the way water tasted after so many days without it, the trees, the breed of dogs, but I can’t say there were forty people when we found the ranch with the thin white man, his dogs, and his shotgun. Until this 5 a.m. I couldn’t remember there were only five, or seven people— We’d separated by the paloverdes. We, meaning: four people. Not forty. The rest. . . I don’t know. They weren’t there when the thin white man let us drink from a hose while pointing his shotgun. In pocho Spanish he told us si correr perros atacar. If run dogs trained attack. When La Migra arrived, an officer who probably called himself Hispanic at best, not Mejicano like we called him, said buenas noches and gave us pan dulce y chocolate. Procedure says he should’ve taken us back to the station, checked our fingerprints, etcétera. He must’ve remembered his family over the border, or the border coming over them, because he drove us to the border and told us next time, rest at least five days, don’t trust anyone calling themselves coyotes, bring more tortillas, sardines, Alhambra. He knew we would try again and again, like everyone does.
“EL Sal-va-doh-RE-AN Salva-doh-RAN, Salva-DOH-RÍ-an,”
los mui-muis, we don’t even know what
to call ourselves. How to eat
a pupusa: ¿fork & knife? or
¿open it up & treat it like a taco? but
then, we’re betraying our nationalistic (read:
anti-black, anti-indigenous) impulse
to not mix with anyone else. ¿& what’s
with jalapeños in the curtido,
cipotes? ¿With using spicy “salsa”
instead of salsa de tomate? There’s too many
“restaurantes,” one side of the menu: Mexican,
the other, platos típicos. Typically
I want to order the ensalada, but then
they bring me an actual salad.
I say: cóman miercoles, they
want to charge me extra for harina de arroz. Extra
por los nueagados. There’s
nowhere I’d rather be most
than in Abuelita’s kitchen, watching her
throw bay leaves, tomatoes, garlic, orégano
into the blender, then chicharrón,
helping her sell to everyone that knows
she made the best pupusas
from 1985 to 2004. By then,
Salvadoreños became “Hermanos Lejanos,”
we traded Colón for Washingtón. By then,
Los Hermanos Flores looked for new singers
every time they returned from Los Yunaited
to San Salvador. Stay, no se vayan,
es-tei, no sean dundos, was all
those Salvadoreños could say.
We didn’t listen & came here
only to be called Mexican or Puerto Rican,
depending on the coast. We had to fight
for our better horchata, not
the lazy whiter one with only rice. & when
we didn’t want to fight
we tried to blend, speak more “Mexican,”
more ira, more popote, more
no pos guao. ¡Nó, majes!
¡No se me hagan dundos,
ponganse trucha vos!
When anyone wants to call you: Mexican.
You can just say: Nó,
actually, andáte a la M—
racista cara de nacionalista.