May 19, 2017

Cindy Watkins

SOBRE AMOR

I still remember the first time
I caught him at it
Me crossing the street
Him in the truck with the
Slut puertorriqueña popping her gum
Popping his belt
Her head popping against the wheel
As I came through the window
All five feet celosa.

His clothes in la calle
The kids crying for papi in the yard
I love you I love you
You fucking bitch
You cunt puta
I love you I’m sorry
Then he did it
Backhand right across the cheek
I shattered a corona on his head
Chased him around the table
Fucked him on it
I had never been alive before.

I got a job en la factoría
So I could watch him do it
Touching them on the arm gently
With his grimed hands
Butterscotches for las morenas
He let the white girls slip his tools
Out of his belt, laughing
Mira I’d say to my friends mira
Mira el sin vergüenza
Later in the night I’d bite
And bite and bite his shoulder bloody
I love you salt
I hate you iron
It’s been twenty six years of it
The magic’s going, it’s getting hard
To care about las putas jóvenes
It’s getting hard
To get them to wink back
It’s getting hard
To get it hard
It’s getting hard
To lay the knife down
And get on the table
Sometimes I think that there’s
Only two ways it can end
Now that the kids are gone
Either one day I’ll catch up to him
And take a blue light drive
Or I’ll say mira querida
You’ve worked hard, retire
Bastante bien for now
And take up knitting

But my hips y mi cola
Say I’m still young
I run five miles a day
He wears reading glasses
Takes a fiber supplement
But I’m not ready yet for
Spectacles or regularity.

The newest mechanic
Cabello rizado and shy smile.

The fresh cuts on his
Bare chin say
He’s ready to learn
About love.

from Rattle #55, Spring 2017
Tribute to Civil Servants

__________

Cindy Watkins: “I have, for the past four years, been a poultry slaughter and processing inspector with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The actual day-to-day minutia of the job is important but not necessarily spellbinding. However, in the course of my inspection duties I’ve traveled to a lot of different factories, which have the most diverse makeup of human beings that I have ever encountered. There is a lot of blue collar struggle, a lot of cultures clashing, a lot of loaded language, and most pleasurably, a lot of different speech cadences born from a multiplicity of domestic and international origins, which is pretty rich soil for poetry. I compose in my head at work, I jot down striking phrases. There’s an attitude towards domestic violence that is not approving, but is nonetheless casual—it is a thing that happens. Childcare is often managed by couples working opposing shifts and trading off the kids at shift swing, which creates tension in relationships. Different groups within this very closed environment frame discourse about each other in interesting (and problematic) ways. There are layers and layers of power differentials. There are unexpected beauties. A woman sings gospel on the trim line on a Sunday shift. A girl teaches me Mexican tongue twisters. The ribcage of a carcass looks like a cathedral. There is a man whose name is Morning.” (twitter)

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