Tag Archives: familia

Reflections

6 Jan

The four of us walked along
the cool night air gently biting our cheeks
Laughter and mirth filled the air and nothing else was there

Surreal to look around and see the crystal like sharpness of this new reality
A gift, really.

The smiling, silly, quirkiness of Iza as she contorts into a hundred personalities: she makes me believe in things beyond what is here and tangible, the unattainable becomes feasible with her, she IS magic surrealism.
She’s a dream all in her own.
She makes waves of laughter; raining bubbles of giggles wherever she waltzes through.
And that is her: etheral in her magical purity – untouched by the gray all around.

The balance of her comes bounding by – her sister – so logical and angular in her gist of existence.
She’s kindness measured by well-meaning. She pulls you up and makes you see it for what it is but never unkind. She is loving and profound, deep in her perceptions, observant and uncanny, real and steady. A beauty that runs deep.

And now I see the charge I have been given. No longer a child to begrieve what may have fallen; I am now a witness to beauty that unfolds for all to see.

Hope.

They endlessly give me the desire to go on to the next horizon. To reach for that line where the sky meets the distance of the land.

__________________

I tailed my dad wherever he’d go. I was his shadow whether he cared for it or not. The best times spent were when he found himself among his native land, his native tongue, his learned ways.

The small town where the sun comes down hard, making the top of your scalp prick up and take notice; where the arid wind blows red earth onto your skin, your clothing, and sticks to your tongue.

He would sit around the kitchen table with my abuelito in the morning, the horizon an hour away, drinking a cup of the oily black cafe de olla. Eventually he would make his way to the labadores where he would find his childhood friends drinking and retelling stories I grew to memorize verbatim. After a few more refreshments their thirst for adventure grew until they were finally moved into action. This day as I crouched behind a walnut tree I heard as they prepared to go on a hunt for rabitts to test their shot.

They hastily stamped out their fire and scurried over to their horses where they mounted the remainder of their drinks, food, and the long tantalizing metal of a gun.

The desert laid before me as I walked about 30 feet behind them, keeping a slow quiet stride so they wouldn’t notice Pepe’s girl trailing them.

When they stiffened, I knew this was the spot and my muscles were so frozen that I soon began to ache in every unused muscle of my body. My father turned and looked directly at me where I lay pressed to the ground and motioned with his finger to wait and remain still. One of his friends took aim, shot, and was rewarded by the dust cloud of the wild hare kicking up its last step and laying down to later bed fed to a family. A chorus of congratulations and hearty manly laughter broke out and when I looked up, my father was there, with his hand outstretched for me to join them properly.

We spent the evening walking and following a scent/trail and when they would relax, I would run to and from them as fast as I could with their cheers giving me fuel to pump my little legs even faster. I looked out onto the furthest point where land seemed to kiss the sky and I thought if I ran fast enough I would be able to jump onto the clouds from that point. I spent the day running at full speed trying to reach the blue sky but it kept slipping away from me.

As dusk came it brought colder temperatures and a change in the group’s mood with it; everyone said their goodbyes and parted their ways, my dad and me walking hand in hand back home with a conejo and his rifle hanging over his shoulder.

________________________________________

This memory comes to me as I walk with my girls and I see some of my qualities in them; how amazing it will be to see them grow up with love, patience, encouragement, and nurturing.

How far they will go.

Hope for Happiness. But no longer just for them, for me too, for us. Hope for us all.

When I see you dance

18 Oct

I was tempted to write this in Spanish as it seems to flow out of me more in my native language.  Funny how whenever I think of my happy childhood memories, I think of them in Spanish.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I see the two of you dance, I feel suspended into an ageless bubble of warmth and comfort.  I am a little girl of 5, a teenager of 13, and a woman of 28.

At family parties, after tiring myself out from dancing, chasing my cousins at “tag”, breaking the pinata, and happily having my fill of carne asada and soda, I would sit down exhausted on a metal fold out chair.  Heaving and puffing from my latest bout of running, I could catch small snippets of my own perfume of sweat, happiness, and birthday cake icing wafting up my nose.  I wiped my bangs off my face and rested my bright red cheeks on my shoulders as I caught sight of the two of you.
The strange sadness of Ramon Ayala’s “Mi Piquito De Oro” would pierce the night and your heart with its sad low crooning of his voice and accordion maneuvers.  It would unfailingly prompt some deeply hidden feeling in my fathers chest to push itself forward and lift him off his seat and set his beer aside to walk towards you and ask you to dance.  Your entire demeanor would soften and you would revert into that young woman being courted.  You would elegantly offer your outstretched hand with nothing but the out most regal grace, and comply to his request.  I knew of the eagerness that filled your chest, of the hope and love sparked anew, but you hid it as you walked with him towards the dance floor.  Only when you were in his arms, your face and expression veiled from his eyes, did you allow yourself to relax into a young girl in love.
That sweet smile that curled your lips into a perky pout became more charming by the softness in your eyes.  Your head resting so lovingly on his chest and the swaying of your hips to his rhythm captivated my imagination.
I sighed and my eyes danced alongside the two of you.  Everyone else would disappear into edges of a dream as the two of your would waltz your way around the room.  Faster and faster until the music would reinvigorate his limbs and inspire his two left feet to keep up with you as he spun you around until you giggled in his ear.  You held him tightly and he leaned over you protectively and I stared, unblinking, to tattoo this image into memory.
I remember the times when I would inevitably fall asleep curled up on a chair and Mi Papi would come over to carry me to the car.  The cold air would pierce my dreams as he scooped me up but I would pretend to keep sleeping so the two of you would remain sweet to each other say sweet loving remarks about your Chuchi.
In the car, the steady hum and bouncing on the road made it difficult for me to keep pretending at sleeping but I shut my eyes tightly and listened in reverie at your calm conversation, peeking every now and then to spy the two of you holding hands, kissing each others neck, and erasing the anger and tension that usually prevailed.
I would lay in bed in my party dress and white stockings, blackened at the feet from running on the grass and ground, and fall into a deep sleep of hope and peace.

Little Things

14 Jun

Your little hands are folded over your plump short legs, your feet flat on the ground; you sit on the concrete steps outside our room with your inquisitive face tilted up towards the sky. Your eyes stare off into the distance, past the rusted chicken wire thrown on the ground, past the tree that bends against the neighbor’s chain link fence, past the abandoned cars left on the hillside… Past all the decay that dominates our view- what do your little eyes see?

The sizzle of the hot oil in the pan makes you turn and your chubby cheeks ride high on your face as you smile at me when you catch my eye. I throw another taquito de papa into the pan and you giggle at the hiss that follows. You stand and smooth over your pink, orange, and white polka dot sun dress and steady yourself against the doorway as you lift your small leg over the entrance.

“Mami? Esta bien?” I look down at you and see your concerned face. How can an infant know that something is wrong? You have only been on this earth for a few months and you have been able to pick up on the sadness that hangs from my face.

“Claro que estoy bien mi amor.”

“Comer mami?” I motion for you to stay away from the stove but quickly lift you up in my arms when I see your eyes sadden. You point at the taquitos inside the pan, and inhale the delicious smell of the tortilla, quezo fresco and papas being fried.

I hold you tight in my arms and kiss you; trying to erase any of my sadness that has touched you.

“Lets rub noses! Like the Eskimoses!” You smile and kiss my cheek as I sit you down to eat on your highchair.

I stretch my aching back and look around at the small room: the sofa and kitchen table three feet from each other, the refrigerator, stove, and your high chair competing for the remaining scarce space, and down to my swelling belly that grows with impatience.

Dinner as A Family

10 Nov

She walked home with her eyes to the ground looking at the cracks in the side walk. The cracks seemed to break off into an endless network of spider webs interrupted only by a wad of black bubble gum that had long ago been bonded onto the cement by the footsteps of Boyle Heights.

Her chest felt tight as she took in a breath that was painful to swallow. She observed the apartments around her; the homes that were unkempt and seemed to sag with poverty. Everything seemed gray and old. As she came up to her street she shook her feelings of sadness and walked up the steps to her home with a weak smile on her face. Her little sister looked up from her Sleeping Beauty marathon and gave her a beaming smile that made the corners of her own mouth creep up higher. Her little mini-me was always lifting her spirits.

Her mother was lying on the couch, her tired feet swollen from a full day at work of standing and taking endless orders from pushy nurses and doctors at her job as a grill cook at the hospital. She studied her mother and felt a pang of guilt and sadness for her. How many dreams of hers had been shattered over the years? Her mouth was slightly agape but it didn’t diminish the prettiness of the delicate mouth that always had the faint smell of coffee. Her face was slack deep in a tired sleep.

She waived at her brother and other sister as she made her way into her room that she shared with her older sister. She put her backpack down and sat on the bed. She looked up and sighed as she stood again. She unbuttoned her maroon checkered skirt and slipped it off being careful to fold it and place it on her cupboard for the next day. She pulled off her shirt and folded it neatly on top of her skirt. Now that her sister was in high school she had two skirts all to herself and she made sure she took careful care of them. She pulled on an oversized t-shirt and her only and favorite pair of jean shorts.

The mirror on her headboard stared back at her. She studied the girl on the mirror and admired the pretty legs that the girl had tucked underneath her. She had smooth light caramel-colored skin and almond-shaped eyes that stared back at her with hunger. Stop it, always day dreaming. There was no pretty girl in that mirror just her own image searching for something better.

“Maria! Que no hay nada de comer?” Always yelling, couldn’t he act civil to her for once instead of demanding everything. Every word that her father directed at her mother always dripped with insult and anger.

Before her mother was up from the sofa having been shaken out of her sleep by the gruffness of her husband, Lorena walked to the kitchen and began pulling out the tortillas and salsa so that her father would leave her mother alone. She tore off a piece of the Foodsaver mailer, turned on the one burner that sparked to life on its own and quickly used the paper to turn on the other three burners on the old stove. She heated the beans and the carne con chile. She warmed up the tortillas and as soon as the food started to simmer she pulled out plates and served her father. As she placed the salsa and tortillas on the table she called to her father that dinner was ready. She served him his place being careful not to serve him too much or not enough and wiped any splashes off the plate with the corner of the dish towel. She laid his plate down just as he slammed the metal front door and walked inside.

His cheeks seemed to hang off his face and his eyes were darker and smaller than usual. She knew that he was probably on his 12th beer by now so she quietly asked him if he needed anything else. He muttered something under his breath to no one in particular and she walked back into the kitchen before he could come up with anything.

They always sat to dinner together in silence. Everyone with their faces down averting their father’s eyes so as not to catch his attention. As she scooped some beans onto her mouth with a piece of tortilla she could feel his eyes on her and she focused her eyes on her food making sure she made no sound as she chewed.

“Que chingados es esto? Si no vas a cocinar bien mejor ni cocines!”

Always complaining about his food- why couldn’t he just eat and shut up? She hoped that her mother would ignore him and as the silence continued for a few seconds she started to relax and feel a sense of -,

“Porque no te callas? Siempre tomando con tu bocota.”

“Ay, pendeja. Estupida! Porque no te callas tu? Siempre en el telefono con tu hermana en vez de estar cocinando.”

Her eyes started to water as she swallowed hard. The ball in her throat precariously bobbing up and down; threatening to reject the beans she had stuffed in her mouth. She couldn’t look away from her plate. Her little sisters and brother looked frantically around them until their father finally got up but instead of going to bed like she had been telepathically urging him to do; he let his body fall back onto his recliner with a big oomph.

“Quitame los zapatos!”

She ran to get his sandals and took off his shoes. She brought him the remote before he could ask and pushed the lever back so he could rest his legs and concentrate on the Spanish channel broadcasting the news.

Her sister helped her clear the plates and shuffle their siblings to their room before any more arguments could erupt. She washed the dishes and put the food away in the fridge. She studied the salsa and beans to see if they could stand another day before covering them and putting them away in the fridge as well.

When she was sure everyone was asleep she took out her books and started on her homework. Around midnight she heard the bolt of her parents bedroom door turn so she quickly turned off the light and pretended to sleep. As the toilet flushed and the water swished down the drain he went back to bed and locked the door behind him. She waited a couple of minutes and then turned the light back on and started on her homework again. Between homework she read and wrote and pushed her eyes to stay open until they would doze off around three. The nightmares would not come if she stayed awake long enough.

Baby oil, barbies, and purging

9 Nov

Do you think the mind has selective memory? The electrician that wired my nervous system must have been a self-taught handy man because he got everything backwards.

Every now and then I concentrate on my younger years and I try to summon a pleasant memory but only flashes of scenes appear; so briefly that I question whether they happened or if I read them or saw them on TV and wove them into my fabric of childhood recollections and dreams.

Like the spark from two cables when you hot wire a car, they get my engine running for a second before they turn off and the reality is ignited again.

My father sits on the floor of our one bedroom duplex on Winter St. as my mother sits on the sofa with her legs encircling him.  I smile up at this rare treat of affection that they are exchanging.  His bulging arms and shoulders relax as my mother massages baby oil onto them – trying to ease the pain of a double shift of standing in front of hot oil, boiling pots, and the suffocating heat of the oven.  

My sister sits next to me, a cardboard box – our toy box lying between us – its contents spread around us.

My mother caresses his dark black wavy hair leaning in close to him.

I focus on my Barbie’s head, trying to squeeze the head of a Black Barbie onto the body of a White Barbie; I study the nude plastic doll and look down at my own four-year old frame and I arch my round tamale feet hoping they will look as elegant as the doll’s.

I turn back to my parents but they are bickering, the sweet moment of peace broken as anger rises in their faces and turns to pushing.

My father storms out and my mother turns to me and my heart catches in my throat as I see her desperation reaching out for help, slowly drowning in the sea of her eyes as the flicker in them dies down and she locks herself in the bathroom – gagging sounds trying to purge the disappointment that won’t go away.

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Zack Hunter | Phenomenological Fiction

Zack Hunter is the pseudonym of a Californian poet, author, artist, musician, and researcher. He lives on a farm and spends his free time reading and writing about whatever it is he is passionate about at the time.

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