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This narrative poem was published in Black Coffee Review's Fall 2023 issue.

Photo credit: danie franco

It’s early morning the sun is not yet up and I am awakened by the sound of mamá’s relentless pounding. She is stacking white bottlecaps, molding them together with a homemade mixture of dreams she’s pulverized in a volcanic lava molcajete and Tijuana green tears swallowed over the years. Papá lines them up and tosses them back faster than mamá can keep up. Mamá made us, babies by the dozen, hungry. She’s been building walls so high for so long we learned to jump before we could crawl. We search for her beyond the walls and find an empty shadow dripping sorrowful sweat as she stacks, caps on caps. Papá drinks to drown out the cries of the baby in the barn who would have been Tio. The baby who cried in the barn for days before the crying finally stopped. Those cries crossed the border with him, thrown over his shoulder and carried on his back like Jesus on Good Friday. When the sound creeps in Papá drowns it down with the clank of bottles, and sometimes the crack of a leather belt on our skin. Papá rages and flows with bottlecap chains, Mamá builds and builds. She is electric wires, raw and exposed, unable to be touched. Mamá builds and builds until she tires and retreats again into some silent memory in a box in a closet in the room for which we see no entry, and from which she sees no exit.


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