When Tía Teaches You How To Keep Your Man
She says Men only need two things: La comida y el culo between drags of a Newport cigarette that balances casually between fingertips knowing everything in a country foreign to your touch is temporary, always trying to eat but never fed to satisfaction Tía: An ephemeral stream that feared anything outside her 5 block borrowed country, her section 8 sky greyed by the barely-there rays of a New York City sun that she could never imagine warming her childhood home in Santiago, that sphere of fire dulled among the rooftops couldn’t bronze her skin even in summer, she laughed, bragged about her stove having more passion than Helios himself, cursed a coñaso at the impotence of small Gods in this great city that watched newly arrived Cibaeños and Dominican- Yorks dance bachata to the same rhythm of a new world caught in their cold smiles She licked the sweat beading off her lover's brow who married her cousin for papers, pursed her lips the same way she had done when she arrived carrying an avocado seed in her mouth past customs; No one cared to hear her voice anyway Mothering was as foreign as English but she continued to summon her womb, pushing forth the weight of five mouths her hands couldn’t quiet, their bellies tied to her own empty, bottle after bottle, first milk then water, lover after lover, first wind gust then ghost No one wanted her fracture, her undone seams of a body with too much to say and nothing but a fist to say it with Men were the only animals she couldn't slaughter in her two bedroom apartment where live poultry met its end on the kitchen counter every Christmas, so she held their throats during sex, bucking to the pulse of carotid arteries, her spine singing perico ripiao, the warmth of his jaw caught in her fingernails, reminded her of eating limoncillos en la marquesina of Abuela’s casita, the juice marking a slow sway down her chin Tía: always hungry, always looking to be fed cooked enough to feed all the married men in her building, knowing there are three ways into this country- water, wind and wound
Peggy Robles-Alvarado is Pushcart Prize nominee, CantoMundo Fellow, and an International Latino Book Award winner. As a tenured educator with an MFA in Performance Studies, she authored Conversations with My Skin (2011), Homage to the Warrior Women (2012) and curated The Abuela Stories Project (2016). Find her @ Robleswrites.com.