Veronica Carlos-Landa

January 31, 2009

Romance English

I see my face in yours—

How Spanish comes from Latin

In Spanish, the plural defaults to masculine unless all female. Of six children, there is one boy. Son los hijos del Senor? Majority doesn’t rule. Gender does. One’s greatest achievement is to be born male. The next best thing, if so unfortunate, is to be beautiful.


You had always been leaving

As infinity reigned

Did you become you after me?

It rained mercilessly

While you were in Mexico

Enjoying equatorial weather


I haven’t been back to you proper in twenty years. These are the things I remember: el rancho, milk from the cow, riding a horse, eating iguana, getting worms, sleeping by candlelight, dirt dry enough to eat. In Tlaltenango, there were brick streets, running water than came out of a pipe with no semblance of a showerhead—it would trickle out mid lather.


In memories, it is no one’s birthday that I can tell—a tangle of children extracts sticky candles. Insert in mouth, prod the tiny cake with fingers. The mothers are frantic. I can’t say who they are.

This is any kind of beginning

You are who you were

Mexico: Something else I remember—people walking the church aisle on their knees, praying for a favor. Que me cure mi espalda. Que no se muera mi padre. Despite the carpet, knees banged on floor.


This is any kind of experience

I grew into you

Engendered from avian

Dieties or lunar disciple

Where there are matrons and patrons

Hay lagrimas

From Memories not my own

A black based on brown

There are things the gulls won’t eat


I relate to my body

As to what I own

My temples ache with searching

My mother tells me a story. She recalls the memory of what she was eight years old and her crippled father had taken her and her six year old sister to the cockfights for the first time. Her father had been shot in the back as a result of a feud between two families who were actually related. No one was sure how the feud began; there was a suspicion it had to do with the seduction of a young cousin or something about a cow. Whatever the reason, her father paid for it with the use of his legs. Her father became to the town a worthless man who could do no more than beg. He took up crochet, or tejer, since he was useless as a man and in the eyes of everyone may as well take on the role of a woman. So he made darling little dresses that he sold to expecting mothers. He made intricate doilies that even the old women admired. But selling his little creations was not enough to sustain a wife and two daughters. His wife shouted that he was no man. So one day in response to his wife’s cries that there was not even money for beans, he took his daughters with him to the cockfights.

There are nameless people around you who know who you are

There are writers who like whale hunters can fashion hope from peril

He rolls his makeshift wheelchair that he himself engineered out of an old wicker chair and bicycle wheels up to talk to the man standing at an opening possibly large enough to be the entrance.

Marquez is magical

But I can’t serve you apotheosis

If that’s what you were expecting

Me to be expecting

He nods his head. The father beckons the girls. The chair takes some maneuvering to get through. On this side of the fence, there is an open square of dirt surrounded by a squat aluminum fence. Hoards of men with war and release on their faces. Two gallos pecking and clawing. She is thankful for the tears that blur her vision.

No she cries thinking that she will now be put up against a murderous bird.

Their father looks at them with anger, insistence and just a bit of, or so she thought, just a bit of apologetic loathing. She began to gather the coins and motioned for her sister to help. When the little one screams at one of the pesos, covered in the entrails of a rooster, she took it from her and put it in her own apron. The little sister takes the cue and together they pick up every last coin—piss, shit, blood and all.

Vulpine smile

A beauty like

The strangest flower

How would ice feel if you didn’t know it existed?

How would the sun feel if your skin were as sensitive as your soul?

Would your bones hurt like your feelings?

Do you check your email every hour and no one who is not advertising writes you?

Are you waiting for a love? A check? A pension?

Are you being ridiculously polite right now?

My dead grandfather didn’t appear as a ghost but as a dispute.

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