Chicharrón y Cielo
He called me “mi cielo.”
The movement of his firm lips
made mine tremble, made the skin
of the nape of my neck
tingle beneath my black hair.
I called him “chicharrón”
as we kissed, my tongue
he calls her “mi cielo”
and he knows that I know. I still wear
the ring on my left finger—the ring
that held an aquamarine the day he slipped
it on my finger. Now
it’s just a metal band holding up
an empty cage. As long as I wear his ring,
every Friday he expects me
to fry him chicharrón.
So each Friday I toss pork belly
into hot grease and cringe
as the popping grease frizzes my hair.
At least his landscaping job earns us enough
to pay for my GMC Yukon Denali and
his Ford F-350 King Ranch Crew Cab.
The rest of the money we send back
to our families in Colombia, leaving
$20 for groceries each week. Tomorrow
is grocery day, so here I am once
again, walking on a bleached-clean brick
path lined with trees whose leaves cast
shadows on both my body and the ground.
I pretend that the leaf-shadows
on my arms brand me
as part of this place, this big, grand
university—the one I always dreamed of.
A place where I would become famous
after I learned how to measure seismic activity
on the sun and how to discover
habitable planets. Black bulging trash bag
slung over my shoulder, my left hand thrust
into a bin, I try to recover enough of the students’
beer cans and plastic water bottles to buy
a bag of rice, avocados, cans of tuna,
and some tomatoes: side dishes for his chicharrón.
My fingers touch a knot of cold slime.
I yank my hand out—
rice noodles tangled in my ring.
Reprinted from Rigorous Magazine