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BELLY: Birthing (from Milagros, unpublished)

I am not the boy he wanted,

his palms lifting up the wet jungle



his cheeks





and calves


sopping soaking death

in the air passing

in the wind a tornado


birthed me

I came from the exploding vacuum

into his hands smaller


lighter than an M16

an agile weapon against mortality

FOOT: Our Dance (from Milagros, unpublished)


Kitten heels. Gleaming white.

Laid out gently over his feet

cloaked in black leather.


Un dos tres. Un dos tres.

Un valtz, he said looking down

my eyes looking up—a distance


connected by the constant count,

the drum beat steady. My hands

in his hands. My first lesson—


He could lead me but not hold me;

the steps in time were mine to make.

Eden’s peach tree (from Beneath the Halo)
Eden gave me two saplings from the peach tree she brought from Mexico, contraband wrapped tightly in a sweater, hidden away from the prying hands of the Border Patrol. The peach tree was from her mother’s ranch in Chihuahua. In Mission, Eden, her husband, three daughters and four sons live together in a two bedroom trailer that the family and neighbors remodeled, securing the hitch to the bed of a cabless truck. She serves me Coke with ice in a recycled Whataburger cup, Whatasized, and points
to each of her plants growing in the patches of grass spotting her dirt lawn: cilantro from the nurse in San Juan, roses from la comadre who lives three houses down, pecan tree saplings from the rancher the family picks cotton for, rosemary from the woman they visit in Minnesota where they pick tomatoes, a watermelon bush from her compadre for fixing his shoulder, a grapefruit tree el jefe gave her for Christmas for filling the most sacks with oranges this past picking season, and the prize of Eden’s garden: a peach tree.
All she touches bears fruit. She says, Todo toma raíz en este país, in this country everything takes root and grows: a peach tree, a rusted trailer, the children’s hair, the lines on her face—even the dirt flowers.
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