Somewhere in my past, my not-yet self
steals a bracelet from a Claire’s at the mall
and thinks she is winning. One Day,
she tucks it into a box labeled “miscellaneous,”
and acknowledges that she will likely never see it again.
Somewhere in the past,
an Omnibus carries my not-yet mother
away from Aguascalientes, Mexico
and into the arms of my not-yet father.
My not-yet mother has packed her life
into a carry-on bag,
and she moves into this country
with the same stealth
that helped her find her way
into my father’s heart.
This is a woman who caused a man to fall
headfirst into a love
four hundred and eighty-eight miles away.
Yes, I would call my mother thief, a trickster.
She takes all the ugly of this world, of this language,
and packs it away into a drawer
or turns it into una belleza. Thank god
my mother was able to pack all that love
into one carry-on bag—because God
must have crafted my mother personally,
Made her the kind of woman who breathes in evil
and expels goodness for everyone else to grow.
All so I could one day find this bracelet,
a gift from my not-yet self, in my “miscellaneous” box
and tuck it away—this time, not to forget,
but to become the belleza, the thief with purpose, instead.
I keep having a dream in which everything is
as it should be. In this dream, a girl buys cigarettes
at the corner store because they remind her of
her father and the ashes he’ll be soon. She dances
with her clothes on and it feels like enough. She
stops crying over spilled vodka and starts crying
because her smoke-and-mirrors parents have
diffused into the air, leaving her to look only
at her own reflection for her problems. She smiles
with those graveyard teeth, points out the sat-on-
a-hair-straightener scar on her thigh, tells people
she cares about them, tells them that she needs them
to care about her. In this dream, she lays bare for the
whole world to see and nothing bad comes of it.
When I wake, heart pounding, I tell myself
it was simply a nightmare. The girl’s face
becomes more distorted as I rub rheum
from my eyes. With each sunrise,
it becomes harder and harder to wake up.
Paola Liendo is a sophomore English major at Kenyon College. She is a Senior Editor and writer for Her Campus Kenyon, and she won Kenyon’s Propper Prize in Poetry in 2018. Her work aims to give voice to the ideas and observations she is often unable to say aloud.