From “Río Grande~Bravo”

We cannot tattoo roses
On the wall
Can’t tattoo Gloria Anzaldúa’s roses
On the wall
Roses grow in the earth of white-winged doves
The doves coo all day with roosters at Valle de la Paz
Cemetery, the panteón in Hargill near La Sal del Rey
Where deer snort warnings
From the monte, warn visitors
Because the freshwater puddles near the saline lake are shared
And deer prints outnumber all others, wedge prints fill with salt
And when the sun beats down on the washed-up body of a crystallized frog
I remember Prietita having to kill and bury her fawn
Before the game warden arrives and incarcerates her papi

And I remember a gardener tending flowers
Was thrown by a car carelessly backing up fast
In a McAllen strip mall parking lot. The gardener
Forced a dizzy smile, spoke only Spanish when he finally stood up.
He didn’t want to call attention to his presence
On this earth,
This strip mall earth. And so the driver zoomed off.

And I remember the parakeets eating bottlebrush seeds in spring
Their anxious huddling in fall on urban electric wires
I remember buying cascarones on a spring corner
After my own accidents
I remember Brownsville’s red-faced parrots
The ancient tortoise at Laguna Atascosa
Hundred-year-old sabal palms uprooted for the wall’s concrete footing
I remember the confluence of river and Gulf at Boca Chica
And the fisherwomen, men, and children across
At Playa Bagdad, Matamoros

I remember wanting to plant and water roses
como las palabras de Gloria, como la gente
Del valle, como mexicanos in the borderlands



And when I wake up in the morning feeling love
And when I wake up in the morning with love
And when I wake up in the morning and feel love
And when I wake up in the morning already loving
How the body works to help us feel it

From With the River on our Face (University of Arizona Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Emmy Pérez. Used with the permission of University of Arizona Press.