Dr. Jim McCutchon practiced medicine in Corpus Christi for many years before retiring to pursue other interests, one of which is writing. He is currently working on a novel about life on a 19th century plantation in Louisiana. As an exercise while studying the writing craft at a workshop in Santa Barbara California, he was challenged by the moderator to write a short story containing a very specific ending, and to do it in ten minutes. That story is EMERGENCY, which was included in Corpus Christi Writers 2018. For 2019 he decided to do something a little different.
May 3, 2017
While taking a tour through Pass Christian on my way home from a trip to Biloxi, I stopped at Live Oak Cemetery to see if the gravestone had been placed on my aunt Rebecca’s grave and to just look around. Live Oak is a special cemetery to me. There are so many of my ancestors buried there, and the quiet, the giant moss-covered oaks and the battered headstones all come together to give me a special feeling of being connected to my past. It’s a feeling that I get in no other place and in no other way. Modern cemeteries have what they call Perpetual Care. It’s a prepaid way for the cemetery to take the responsibility for maintenance. Live Oak was established before that idea took hold, and the families are responsible. In my case, there is no family close by, and I think, from the looks of the place, that is not uncommon. Iron fences around family plots are rusted and broken. Marble headstones, softer than the modern granite, are covered with mildew leaving the inscriptions difficult to read. Many headstones tilt to one side, and some are broken. In places, Hurricane Katrina removed headstones, and no one has replaced them.
I drove onto the shell road that has grass growing between the tire tracks and parked alongside the collection of family graves that is just inside the place where the pillars that marked the entrance used to be before Katrina swept them away. Here was the grave of my great, great-grandfather. The family was rich then, and he has a suitable marble monument. Near it is a smaller marble monument for my great grandfather. Near that is a small granite headstone for my grandfather. It is a poignant reminder that, as the family fortune diminished, so did the stone markers. I wasn’t sad, just pensive. I’m probably better off for not having inherited wealth. But I’ve gone down a rabbit trail. It has nothing to do with zombies and revenge.
In the same enclosure were two graves that lay flat with concrete perimeter walls about six inches high and a concrete slab for a lid. At the head of each was a marble headstone about 3 feet high. For some reason, both of these tombs had marble crosses leaning on the headstones, obscuring the inscriptions. They were identical. The vertical beam was about 4 feet long. The transverse beam was about 3 feet long. In thickness, they measured 4 by 4 inches. I was curious. By leaning over, I could see that the first name of the person buried in the tomb to my left was Frederick. I couldn’t see the rest. My guess was that I was standing atop my great uncle Fred at whose house I stayed in and played in as a young child. I remember the house and Uncle Fred very well although he died when I was only five. Another rabbit trail. Stick to the story!
I moved to the twin tomb, thinking it must contain the remains of my great uncle Jimmy. That made sense. They were brothers. They should lie together. Since I am called Frederick James, I was especially eager to see if Old Uncle Jimmy was in there, but that chunk of marble was too heavy to lift. No problem. It should be easy to tilt it up just a tad and peek. Leaning forward, I did just that. It must have disturbed the occupant. Suddenly, as though someone had shoved it, the cross lurched forward, struck me in the lower right leg and propelled me onto my right shoulder alongside the grave. Memories of a previous fall on that shoulder immediately came to mind. And I didn’t like the prospects of another operation. Jimmy Dinn is a nice guy and a good orthopedist, but shoulder surgery hurts.
Then, I thought about my immediate problem. The cross was lying on my right lower leg and foot. I was trapped. The zombie in that tomb had taken revenge on the fool who dared to disturb him. Now, the deserted cemetery was not a blessing. There was no one around to help. Lying down on your side and reaching to your foot does not provide a mechanical advantage for lifting a heavy object. Just the opposite. I couldn’t budge the cross with my left hand. My cell phone was in a pocket that I couldn’t get to, and I considered the possibility that I would die there and join the zombie that had shoved the cross on top of me. The idea gave me the adrenaline surge I needed to rise halfway up, use both hands with a right shoulder crying out in pain and lift the cross one inch. All I needed. I was free. Was my leg broken? No. Incredible luck. I stood, looked around and decided to get out of there. So there. Uncle Jimmy or whoever you are in that tomb. You zombie.
Holding my right wrist with my left hand to stabilize my sore shoulder, I went to my car, opened the door with my left hand, got in and slowly drove off. I was miles away when I realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures. Too late, but I was pleased to be free, and I knew that I could drive with just my left hand. I’ve had experience. When I was in my teens, I sometimes had a date on a cold Saturday night. In those days, cars didn’t have air-conditioning or heat. We also didn’t have center consoles in the front seat. If my date was cold (not in the metaphorical sense), she would sit close to me to keep warm, and it was rude not to help by putting my right arm around her. We didn’t have power steering either.
I drove 3 hours to Baton Rouge on Saturday, stayed overnight with my step-kids and drove 8 hours home to Corpus Christi on Sunday. I was very tired on Monday, but not too tired to go see Jimmy Dinn. X-rays showed no broken bones, and Jimmy prescribed toradol for pain and for its anti-inflammatory action. I had refused offers of pain medicine, but doctor’s orders trumped my stubbornness. I took my first toradol Monday at bedtime. Amazing. I slept well and woke refreshed and almost pain free. Thanks Jimmy.
The story gets better now. Today, I called Live Oak Cemetery and spoke with the administrator. He checked the records and found that someone named Harriet is buried in Uncle Jimmy’s tomb. Well, I guess it isn’t Uncle Jimmy’s tomb after all. Or is it? Are they together? Did I disturb some after life romance? We will never know, and the zombie or zombies will rest undisturbed, at least by me.
read more like this in Corpus Christi Writers 2020
A funny thing happened to me last night. Not funny in the sense of humorous but in the sense of unusual, very unusual. I had just turned off my bedside reading light, turned on my right side as I often do and closed my eyes when the light went back on. That’s strange, I thought. Lights shouldn’t turn back on by themselves...
read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019.
He was sitting at his desk after lunch, talking with three associates. An important business meeting. He had left strict instructions—no calls, no interruptions of any kind—but there it was, the blinking red light on his phone demanding attention. He tried to ignore it, but it flashed with such insistency he finally had to respond.
It was his secretary. The principal from Jenna’s school had just called, and he needed to get there right away.
Not again! Please God, not again . . . the blinking light, the tone of voice; it was too familiar. He turned pale. Dreading what he might hear, he didn’t ask for details. A year ago his wife Darlene had been on her way to that same school to pick Jenna up for a ninth grade soccer game. A truck blasted through a red light and T-boned her. Within moments firemen were working furiously with the Jaws-of-Life to get her broken body out of the car, but it was no use. She was lifeless as a china doll. The flashing red light and his secretary’s tone were the same then as now…
He replaced the receiver, muttered a quick excuse to his three colleagues, and quickly walked out of his office. As he hurried by his secretary’s desk, she gave him the same fearful and sympathetic look she had that time a year ago.
He took the same elevator down as he did then. The same ad for the same cafeteria was pasted on the same elevator walls; the same picture of the same food was still there.
A sob caught in his throat. He suppressed it.
The elevator . . . so damn slow—couldn’t they at least change the picture?
He got in his Beamer in the garage, but his mind was already at the school. The car seemed to drive itself, turning left at the drugstore on the corner of Walnut and right at the gas station, four blocks down to the school, with no conscious input from him.
He had been taking Jenna to school over that same route for a year. Ever since the accident. Picking her up too, though not for soccer practice. Jenna had quit soccer. Quit everything—writing for the school paper, acting in the plays, cheerleading, even talking on the phone with her friends. Mostly she stayed in her room with the shades drawn and the door closed. And she didn’t listen to music anymore. She used to be his sunshine girl, smiling only when she wasn’t laughing.
But not anymore.
Darlene’s face had been smashed. He had chosen a closed coffin. Jenna wanted him to open it so she could say good-bye to her mother, her best friend. He didn’t want to do it, but he did. A mistake. Jenna hadn’t been the same since.
She and Darlene had done everything together; shopped for brightly colored clothes, walked in the rain, danced to teeny bop tunes in the kitchen while cooking, baking or washing dishes. Everything was fun for them.
No more. Jenna didn’t laugh any more. Her stylish preteen clothes hung unworn in the closet. She now chose brown, sometimes black. She rarely talked. It had been a year. He had waited for her to heal, but she only got worse. Now this.
He pulled into the parking lot at school and forced himself out of the car. A security guard offered to take him to the principal’s office. Judging by the look on his face, the guard already knew what had happened.
Fearful and hesitant, he approached the principal’s waiting rom. His chest was so tight he could hardly breathe. As he stood before the receptionist, he saw she too was apprehensive, as though sitting on tragic news she was not free to divulge.
She told him he was expected, that he should just knock and go in. He hesitated in front of the heavy door for a short moment. What horrible news was waiting for him behind this solid core door with imitation brass doorknob?
He took a deep breath, gingerly knocked, and opened the door.
He stopped, unable to release the doorknob for fear of collapsing. The walls and floor appeared gray, but he was dimly aware they might only seem that way because his vision was fading. The principal’s desk was gray too, cold institutional steel, and there were no chairs for visitors.
A tinge of anger began replacing the despair. The anger grew as he realized he would be made to stand like an ordinary suppliant while his eminence fed him the details of this latest tragedy.
He tightened his hold on the knob.
The principal got up, came around the desk and adjusted his ridiculous tweed jacket with the leather patches at the elbow. Who did he think he was, an Oxford Don? A little man with a squeaky voice, he was saying something like . . . terrible thing . . . never had this happen before in my school . . . so much mess to clean up after her . . . can’t have classes this afternoon . . . the students are out of control . . . no atmosphere for academic pursuits . . . was such a nice girl . . . a tragedy . . . and it’s all her fault.
He was really angry now. All the little man cared about was his damn school and his spotless record. Solid core or not, he just might tear the doorknob out and plant it in the principal’s skull.
By now the principal was pointing a trembling finger at something in the corner of the room hidden by the opened door. He was saying, “She started a food fight in the cafeteria.”
He looked behind the door. There was Jenna, standing erect with her head held high and her arms folded on her chest. She had the light in her eyes that he loved but hadn’t seen since Darlene’s death, and she was grinning with defiance and delight. It had taken a year, but in the end, the spirit of his sunshine girl had burst back into life, and neither school authority nor the principal’s anger could suppress it.
“Jenna!” he exclaimed, “Thank God! I thought . . .”
The principal continued his petulant sputtering, but neither father nor daughter paid the least attention. He stooped to embrace the girl. “never mind what I thought . . . oh Honey, I’m so proud of you!”
READ MORE GREAT WORK by local writers in CORPUS CHRISTI WRITERS 2020.
Jose Olivares was born in Corpus Christi. He graduated from Roy Miller High School, and the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&I University Kingsville, and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. He worked as a secondary mathematics teacher, middle school principal and Corpus Christi Independent School District mathematics consultant and as adjunct professor of mathematics at Texas A&M CC. Jose and his wife Tomacita have three children who are also graduates of UT Austin. Their daughter Liana Gonzales is an attorney in Corpus Christi and daughter Mariela Olivares is also at attorney and law school professor at Howard University in Washington DC. Their son Jose Luis is a graphic computer artist in Portland, Oregon. They have four grandchildren.
“Please close the windows, the air is burning my face” my younger sister cried as we drove to California seeking work as migrant workers. My parents had loaded the family (five children ages 17, 15, 13, 10, 4) into the car and headed cross country to the Bakersfield area. Two older siblings did not join us—one was married and the other was serving in the U.S. Army. I was 15.
Our car did not have air conditioning, but the desert air blowing into the car was so hot that we alternated closing and opening the windows. My Mother would constantly place a wet towel over my Father’s head and shoulder in order to cool his body.
We worked picking grapes, peaches, potatoes and tomatoes. Our home was in one of the many labor camps in the area. Our shelter was a metal structure that felt like a furnace in the hot summer days. Our shelter had no electricity, running water or bathroom facilities. Group facilities were available for our use.
Children worked alongside their families and contributed in the daily pickings. We generally worked eight to ten hours each day.
My brother taught me to drive a car that summer. It was a Chevy with a standard shift. One of my greatest pleasures that summer was driving to a corner store on Fridays and drinking a quart of chocolate milk without having to share with my siblings. “When I grow up, I will buy all the chocolate milk I want,” I would tell my brother.
That was the summer of 1962. César Chávez and the United Farmworkers Union that sought to improve working and living conditions for migrant workers would come years later.
--José, levántate mi hijo, ya son las seis-- my Mother said as she woke me up. I waited for her to leave and then started crying silently. I was about 12 years old.
My nightly dreams included episodes of picking cotton. I picked cotton during the day and then I picked cotton during my sleep. I remember being exhausted in the mornings, but I gave myself the privilege of crying only once. I did not tell anyone. I felt I could not take a day off.
We generally worked ten to twelve hours a day in the cotton fields of South Texas. I always felt it was my job to pick cotton, as much as I could, every day. Most of our family worked in the cotton fields during the summers.
Each week my parents would give me about one dollar to spend and our earnings were used to provide for our family. I could count on a new shirt, pants, and sometimes shoes for the start of the new school year. I worked in the cotton fields from grade school through my sophomore year in high school.
Joseph Wilson taught Senior English Advanced Placement, Film Studies, and Creative Writing at Richard King High School for 42 years. He created and edited the poetry magazine "Open All Night" for 40 years. Many of his former students contribute to The Corpus Christi Writers series. He writes poetry. He also posts frequently on Facebook, and has a large following.
one hundred years ago
Paul Herbert Cline
fought in WW One
he survived terrors in France
P. H. died from lung cancer
when I was a freshman in college
he was a good man
a hard man and a hard-working man
a screaming kind of man
in his basement shop he taught me how
to hammer bent nails into scrap boards
and cut planks with a table saw that buzzed
like hornets in my hair
he built a basketball court for me
so that on Sunday afternoons
after spending the night and going to church and Sunday school with grandma
I could play bball with my church boys
my parents divorced
when I was three
I remember my namesake
my father and his new wife
for my little brother Paul and me
on their front porch
with cokes in the small bottles with silver straws
I remember my father promising to take me
to see elephants
loop their tails and trunks at the circus
I remember the night he didn’t show up
and I remember my mother smoking in the kitchen while I sat in the front room
on the couch waiting
from my age of five to my age of thirty
my father was no-show father
his name my name was a name not spoken
there were no pictures of him in the house
so when my mother remarried
my step-father, Walt, I was happy
he was a big handsome man who said he loved me
he was an emotionally limited man
who grew up mostly in an orphanage
where his own mother dropped him off
when he was three
and kept her older two children with her
during the depression
he was uncommunicative
quiet but with a temper
during college when we would part
I would bear-hug him and he would tear up
several years ago during a visit with my mother
while studying old family pictures
she held up a smiling picture of her father
cached separately in a cellophane bag
like it was sacred relic
almost to herself as if praying
my Daddy didn’t like you
because you reminded him
too much of your father
Joseph Tyler Wilson the third
April 1, 2019
We bump into Tina B. in the line for the movie
After we trade compliments
Tina says she bet her daughter
Who is saving seats inside
That she would know five fellow film patrons
She had already won when I kissed her on the cheek
“…a drink after?”
“…no, no, I’m running at 7”
After watching “Parasite” with my old roommate Joe H.
After an animated discussion at the wine bar until one
About current wives, our work, the waitress’s intricately woven dress
Jazz, mistakes of karmic proportions, sons, ex-wives
About the swirling blue currents
That shape the vicissitudes of our lives
We have quiet talk at his house over iced cold water
About the patent lunacy of Trump
And the ever-looming election
And how Joe’s daughter looks
So so much like his second wife
We share a few secrets and a long goodnight hug
While driving home I listen to Ed Sheeran
Sing about how he will always remember
Being kissed by a woman under a lamppost on 6th Street
I kissed a woman there once too
When we pulled to a stop on Bee Cave Road
I didn’t love her but I wanted to love her
And now I can’t remember her last name
Later on Facebook I write my movie review and
Then I read the Times op-eds until 3
After sleeping in to 9
I mow the front yard and the back yard
I play with the poodle puppies on the stone patio
The fuzzy faced one unties my boots
And bites my nose when I hold her close
In the pasture I finish the mowing
And then I move the winter debris to the back fence line
Then I hang a prayer flag for my mother
I cut red winter roses for my desk
Where in three hours the aroma
Will nearly intoxicate me.
I drive skittishly through Houston
This morning shuttered by vertical layers
Of flashing singing rain showers
The vivid grey panels scream down from
The vanishing sky
Mute the sounds of seven
Lanes of crawling cars and
The bestial four-wheeler lugging oil
That I follow closely for seven miles
Because I cannot see anything but close grey
I sit in the Menil Museum right now though
Safely on a solid mahogany bench
Staring for a time at an Agnes Martin
Seven foot by seven foot square oil painting
The same greyish color as the storm
But her inscribed seven lines are horizonal
Subdued greys so I am at peace
Resting and immersed in this room
Filled with other Agnes monochromes and yellow lines
On the floor marking where I cannot go
Just yesterday at lunch at BK Thai on the patio in the overcast
Grey my friend Mark Strand says “Pu Chou, Pu Chung Chu”
Which he claims translates to
There is no story”
I want to read the NewYorkTimesSundayEdition all the way through
I want to hear live jazz
in an outdoor city space with the trace of a breeze
and a strong cup
I want to walk three miles on the bayfront toward the Harbor Bridge
I want to go to the restaurant Egg in Brooklyn and have braised vegetables garnished with fresh herbs over oatmeal
with a fried egg sunny-side-up
I want to see two movies at the local cinema
which begin at the
I want to gaze into my dog’s brown eyes for three minutes
to raise the level of oxytocin in our brains
I want to cut some white roses in the pasture
I want three glasses of Prosecco with raspberries blueberries and
arils of pomegranate filling the bottom of the bowl of the
I want to speak to my mother on the telephone and
have her really be able to hear me
I want to hit some tennis balls with a colleague and raise a sweat
I want to engage in a serious conversation
face to face with my friend
who can’t seem to do that
I want to find just a little mindfulness right now
I want to finish
Joshua Bridgwater Hamilton is a Louisville, KY native who migrated to Corpus Christi with his family. Between Kentucky and Texas, he has traveled and lived in several places, including Spain, Appalachia, Panamá, Peru, the Philippines, and the Colorado River. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at Texas State University. He has two chapbooks: Rain Minnows (Gnashing Teeth Publishing), and Slow Wind (Finishing Line Press). His poetry appears in such journals as Windward Review, Driftwood, Voices de la Luna, Tiny Seed Journal, Sybil Journal, and San Antonio Review. www.joshuabridgwaterhamilton.com. See his website
The afternoon fluvium
leaves behind wide deltas
of silt and hours;
action slows and traces
spidery erosions of crooked rivulets
through morning grit
and swift determination.
Human energy consents
its own diurnal arc,
rising through heavenly body,
layering work, dinner, play.
Orange and blue light
while turbo-diesel engines
craze Main Street.
and silent owners
A sweets shop
chimes open its
door: inside the rich sustain
of chocolate and hard
Hours seem purposed
for losing the drift of current,
pulling into the muddied confluence
a rickety cove,
muted cartoon violence
trickling from houseboat
before heavy blue curtains
obscure the explosion.
A light shower
confers tentative shreds of legitimacy
to narrow spectrums
echoed by forecast:
radio, tv, webpage,
phone app – mundane filters
magnified through urgency.
In the wet patio across the street
a middle-aged woman, hands on
hips, observes gardening tools,
pots, and mulch
glisten and darken
like forgotten photographic process.
She wears a white halter-top,
high-cut running shorts,
and forth in the wet sheen
tossing a blond ponytail.
Her athletic, jerseyed intensity
reconciles early evening –
vessel of time re-encountering
in the drift.
Fall slips by like a funeral.
Students of the moon attend
silent burials, luminescent families
in obscure worlds. These 8 hour flights with
double feature, thin coffee and atmosphere
charged with no silver disc,
no gravity pull. Another astral body
snuffed, all made of light. light.
Experts in reflection, we orbit
screens — we make them
sequels to our lives, a continuum
of panel, eye, and experience.
Information fills esophageal sockets,
but the visual gulping
induces vomit, expunging of game scores
troop mvts prices candidates homicides plots
we stretch like a cat in constant convulsion.
Yesterday I recognized
house finch, wren and
tufted titmouse — birds that stay
for winter, active only on my side
of window and field guide. When the source
gives out and our sun reels down to a halt,
the picture ceases its movement,
we are forced to tease the light
out of our own cracked lenses.
Rays pierce the misty ford of morning
Hark the juncture of livid and dull
The pulse of never taking you after
A simple repast, of never taking after
The dark hollow of cheekbone
Mirror of laughter Find it
Mostly dug into the moist humus
Rotted bone and skin This stitch in my side
Woven from cowflesh and greeting the seared moment of light
The private logon opens spirit hunger,
measures dusk in parts per inch:
lawn green vectors to horizon diminish
the private. Logon opens spirit. Hunger
roots down through windows where hours blemish
until glistening ribcage unfolds elegantly
the private logon, opens spirit. Hunger
measures dusk in parts per inch.
I ate my own desire. There where
the mirror reflected fruits, vines,
a sickening pace to rot faster
until the motorcycle slipped
completely off the road. No more
glass dance, the mortgage melted
in my hands, blindingly free
and anchor-less. One more dog-
dripped bark at a pinking moon
and you folded yourself up
in denim forever. The wind
bends trees walls cars sideways
through prism of salt crystal
prescience, reads the future
homeless sweating and grimed
planting colorful tents
along scythe-curved stretch of beach.
Make this space for the incorrect
calculation, the botched theory
thousands live by, follow the line
into pavement, dust, cotton bolls,
build beginnings again
from slant sun-ray 2x4s
and the mortar squeezed
Desiccate splintered forest
ground up and spat out
under the feet - accumulated
bits of growth, decay, sun-
light worded into leaves
and chainsaws articulated
into kindling - like
the devastation of a bad life
ground up and strewn
in an attempt to soften
the inevitable crash
Copyright Joshua Hamilton
Read more of Joshua Hamilton's poetry in Corpus Christi Writers 2018
The author and her family are compassionate people and have a true love for animals. They have been known to stop the car on the highway to rescue a turtle in the road. Look for THE MISFITS BECOME A PACK, an illustrated children's novel
I am Molly the Weiner dog, I was the first member of the current pack and am also the oldest. I have long hair with a really long body that almost scrapes the ground. I am kind of funny looking but I am a fierce leader. I want to tell you the story of how I became the leader of a very special pack. I used to live on a farm where puppies were made. There were always dogs everywhere running and barking and playing. It was a great place to live. One day a lady came out to our farm looking for something...
Julieta Corpus is a bilingual poet from Mexico whose work has been included in The Thing Itself, and the Texas Poetry Calendar. Her latest literary contribution is a collaboration with poet Katie Hoerth and visual artist Corinne Whittenmore: Borderland Mujeres, published by Texas A&M Press. It will be available in the Fall 2021. Julieta's first poetry collection, "Of Love And Departures" published in June 2021 by EM Editoriales is now available through Amazon.
The Perfect Mistress
Must maintain a youthful Appearance, at all costs.
She must make herself
Of the day or time, keep
Idle chatter to a bare
The mistress keeps up to
Date on the latest
Amatory skills to please him.
She needs to learn how
He likes his steak and learn
To make his favorite
Any mistress worth her
Her salt, maintains a
No matter the situation.
She will keep a drawer filled
With lacy undergarments,
Black or red--NEVER white.
A woman like that should
Acquire the habit of shopping
And eating by herself.
She must display herself at
Various stages of undress
Whenever he is around.
The perfect mistress curbs
An urge to blurt out incisive
Words when compared,
Unfavorably, by him, to
She must forever eschew
The thought of being
Replaced by someone much
A mistress will learn to cry
In silence, and in dark places---
Conquer her fear of loneliness.
The beast beats up his wife
For no other reason, than to
Assert his manhood,
"I own you.
I could kill you if I wanted to."
She usually curls up in a corner
And closes her eyes.
She cannot fight back, even less so
When he's been drinking,
Alcohol increases his
The rage within.
He is the man of the house.
The lion in wait for any excuse
To pounce on her.
Lupe is only thirty years old,
But already her physical
Injuries trigger severe seizures.
And no matter how loud she
Screams, no one ever comes
To her rescue.
The neighbors simply shut
Their doors. Her family won't
Help, either. They warned her
Against marrying him.
But Lupe fell in love.
Now, her abusive husband is
"Her cross to bear."
His children are not spared
Any of the abuse, either.
All three boys have met
Every one of his demons.
He tries to bend the children
To his will with his belt buckle,
Boots, and fists.
Years later, he grows tired,
Leaves Lupe for another
Woman. He claims he's
Sick of her seizures, and her weeping,
"You're faking all of it. You're too weak."
The beast dies at seventy years
Old while crossing a busy
Guadalupe Escobedo, his wife,
My grandmother, outlived
Him by eight years.
You are still there beneath the shadow of our
ebony tree, laughing uproariously. I
know it is you marking a path of salt
towards the ocean. I play hide-and-seek
with your grey beard, resting my sadness
upon your shoulder.
At times, I distinguish your profile
amongst the fig leaves. I stay for awhile and talk with
the breezes which conspire to shape and then
undo your contours.
You are still there, poised as a butterfly sipping
from the petals of my silence. I see your resilience
in the stubbornness of our cactus blooming once a
Sometimes you leave—in the interim, I feed on
cobwebs suspended in time. I dance a barefoot
waltz with torn pages from the wall calendar.
Upon your return, everything acquires the honeyed
scent of permanence.
That sadness haunts her, injects her voice
with a shimmer of tears. When she speaks,
a flock of purple martins leave her lips, fly
They return when Spring kisses the earth—
build their nests against her ribcage, sate
their hunger with her nostalgia.