Even in my dreams,
I am near the border.
Three in the afternoon,
The air is thick
As breath that sleeps
On the tongue over night.
The breeze kicks, blood drops
From the man’s hands next to me.
He smells like the red rag
My father uses to wipe bacon
Sweat from the placa.
I can’t fit my fear under my skin,
I’m awakened by the sound
Of the knife thump
Against the butcher block
As mi abuela cuts
The mushy flesh of meat
For menudo. She stops,
Stares at the back of her hands,
Ten crooked fingers, wiry veins,
The thump continues as a man
Somewhere in Tijuana uses his hands
To stack slabs of bodies into the dusty
Throat of earth, fire-scorching flesh
Off heated bone, cough of black smoke
Blisters the sky,
Mi abuela turns to me
And says, be careful when you
Start to cook the meat, lower
FLOWER DRIVE, EL PASO
Mi abuela is sitting at the kitchen table, scraping
Needles from the face of cactus palms for nopales.
That summer my eyes became two brown
Pennies, payment for her stories:
She met Felipe in Juárez when the yellow buds
Of cacti bloom like sure lips before biting
Into the purple bodies of plums they plucked
From her mother’s tree. They danced cumbias
Out of the chapel, he carried her here—
Eleven children later, he left her here,
Said he had a wife and child waiting
For him. The open mouth of Juárez
Seized him into the ribs of its throat—
Only to cough him back up thirty
Years later—We see him coming
Up the walk way, cradling a bag
Of pan dulce: five maranitos, three panes de huevo
To help her heart heal.