HARD WORK PAYS OFF
My mother worked hard in bed. She would dig herself out of men’s pockets like a miner. Every man was a mine shaft; she always knew what she was looking for. My mother always managed to pay for my school fieldtrips just like all the other mothers. I liked her for this. The night before the zoo my mother told me to lie quietly and fall asleep. I listened. I slept on the edge of our bed like a wrinkled quilt. I could hear them: thick gulps of sweat pounding like a galloping horse. I remember the bed quaking like the broken engine of an old car, the sound of grinding wood and chipped teeth. The room started to smell of burning wax. Shadows of two bodies melting into each other. I would close one eye. My mother’s legs stretched above his shadow like the reins of a horse. I could smell her unknotting her lungs under this cowboy sweat, gripping his knees on her hips for support. It reminded me of the movies, how cowboys ride horses. I could hear their bones echoing through the mattress: frenetic, resilient, and faceless. Their bodies tangling like grapevine. The next morning, the sheets were damp like wet grass after a shower. And my mother wore her purse like a saddle.
—from Rattle #37, Summer 2012
Mary Anne Rojas: “Humans are afraid of me and I think they should be. If I have not spoken to you, you are a poem. And if I have spoken to you, then you are just potential unless I find something about myself in you. My poems are for me, therefore, for you; how narcissistic of you to believe this was about me.”