I am so happy to be back in México,
in my hometown: Atotonilco.
I missed the short narrow streets;
children—in their ironed uniforms—
walking to and from school throughout the day,
innocence and laughter trailing behind them
like hair ribbons. I missed being greeted by people
in my town’s open market,
or the bantering between taxi men
waiting in front of the church.
I missed the food stands around the zocalo
where families gathered and young couples kissed
coyishly on park benches—
and it was nothing like this in San José,
but I miss you now, América. How are you?
I still remember that first week inside of your home
in California while our husbands were out
building houses in Walnut Creek.
We stood in front of the living room window,
peeked through the aluminum blinds
like two hovering hummingbirds.
Remember how San José was enveloped
in a scorching heat: brown balded mountains,
streets like incandescent vacuums,
children staying indoors
and the silence?
I am still haunted by your words like spirits
peeling their shadows off of floors and walls of homes,
shadows roaming rooms, spreading themselves
wide enough to darken the day:
Those streets will haunt you,
Those streets will haunt you at night,
you said as you walked.
Those streets will haunt you at night, cause hallucinations,
you said as you walked away.
Those streets will haunt you at night, cause hallucinations if you stare,
you said as you walked away into the kitchen.
Those streets will haunt you at night, cause hallucinations if you stare
into them too often, you said as you walked away into the night.
You never complained about the trailer you lived in,
or your husband renting out rooms to his workers.
You never complained, cooking for them while you were alone
most of the day in a city full of people you did not know.
You never complained that your husband worked late hours,
or how weeks would pass, not knowing what day it was,
alone in a city you did not know, raising two babies.
América, when I reunited with my husband
who rented a room in your house, your company
filled me, but I was miserable.
What I mean to say is: I’m sorry
I left. How is San José treating you?
I can still hear you recite Alejandra Pizarnik’s poem:
Del abismo que arroja al aire
esta última flor
trepo como la araña que soy
frágil y rencorosa deseando tocar alguna luz
que endurezca mí corazón.
It was as if you were growing another organ in your body.
You were in the shower, and that poem
echoed from within the bathroom walls. I convinced myself
you were consoling yourself about something I did not understand,
like a moth at night continuously hitting itself against a windowpane,
trying to reach an indoor light. I asked you about it,
and all you said was you would let hours pass by reciting it
if you could.
Te confîo, querida, I think I, too, am growing another organ.
You and your children were my family
during those two years. I wanted a child of my own
and became excited when my belly began to swell
with small movements like poppies opening gently
with the day, but after my son was born,
I became resentful of life in California,
which is why I returned to México with my newborn son,
my husband staying behind to work; leaving you behind.
Here, in México, I speak of you often.
Truly, how are you? I have not heard from you,
and I worry you are becoming empty and mute
like those narrow streets lined with trailer homes
in San José where people stay inside as if curfewed
or caged. If this postcard reaches you,
write back soon,
tell me about your children,
poems you are reading,
—from Rattle #68, Summer 2020
Yaccaira Salvatierra: “May the words that come first through dreams, be of those before me—of the women before me.”