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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 

fluttering. Now 


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 

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