My grandmother describes my Spanish as desmadre.
She means my accent is the charred wreckage
after the storm, proof our family washed up
in this country one day & were no longer from anywhere
else. Desmadre translated directly to English means without
mother, so maybe my grandmother’s history is the map
I lost & have been searching for ever since.
Maybe the voyage ends with my mouth
open. The last relic of la patria settling on my tongue
for a moment, then dissolving into the water.
My grandmother told me a story once
about her adoption & all the new words she learned
for family—but I do wonder if she ever feels that absence,
if she woke up en la tormenta
surrounded by flotsam, only to learn
she is without mother.
My abuela sits in our backyard
San Diego. She drinks
from her glass
& it starts to rain.
She kisses my father
on his forehead
& the drought
She makes magic
sound like her first language
the way she makes el desierto weep,
the way she conjures this spell of agua
She calls it her name,
calls it familia
resilient & alive