In this version, skin is a mask for Satan
& corn tortillas are hostias of fire
stacked on a rusted iron griddle. Here,
my mother is Eve. Standing half-naked
beside the ceramic sink in our kitchen,
she washes a clay bowl with both hands.
She whispers, a man can carry an apple
between his legs. Today, I’ll understand,
I think, but I don’t want to
understand. In this version, I’m
what-comes-next. My sweetheart says,
babies are failed periods. My mother
refuses to laugh when I tell her.
It’s a cultural thing. This “white thing”
that dulls the color of his freckled skin.
She always warns, you shouldn’t laugh
when lighting prayer candles of the Virgin
etched in colored glass. It’s generational,
like knowing the subtle difference
between Papa & Papá. I tell her I know,
as I lean over her trembling hands to take
the earthen bowl from her wet palms.
Leslie’s poetry has been awarded a National Society of Arts and Letters Chapter Career Award, the David E. Albright Memorial Award, and was chosen by D. A. Powell as the recipient of the 2014 Washington Square Poetry Award. Her poems were also finalists for the 2014 49th Parallel Poetry Award and the 2014 New Letters Poetry Award. She received her MFA from Indiana University and is currently a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center. Above all, she enjoys lemonade in clear cups and jackalopes.
feature image via Lazy Tech Guys.