Two Poems by Esmeralda Gamez


La Carnicería

she places a few pesos
in her small hand-stitched purse
coins jingling within the confines
of the blues and greens.

the sun shines brightly
as she passes cars and calls
of “hola, como esta?” and
“buenos días señora Caro.”

she reaches la carnicería,
orders her libra de chicharrones
media libra de birria y salsa verde
to feed her son’s family later.

she doesn’t buy tortillas, she prefers
to make her own, and counts out
the exact change as a young worker
places the hot food into her reusable bag

satisfied the salsa will not spill
she makes her way outside
the sun now blistering as she
takes a right instead of a left

she walks and walks nothing looking
familiar, una cantina, un parque
una tiendita. no signs of her streets
as the bag becomes heavier.

sweat covers her upper lip, she stops
placing the bag on the ground,
she wipes her face and turns around
¿dónde está la carnicería?

¿si de ese lado caminaba? she walks
the way she came not recognizing
la cantina, el parque, la tiendita,
la carnicería all passing to her left.

the heat is overwhelming and her
breath becomes fast and shallow
she places the bag on the floor again,
head spinning in the now unfamiliar world

no cellphone in her pocket,
she only uses it at home and no one
knows she isn’t there. now frantic
she looks right and left, ten feet

from la carnicería she does not
recognize, people pass her
her hand shakes as she tries to reach
out, no voice when she opens her mouth

just hyperventilating breaths and a gasp
when a large hand lands on her shoulder
“señora Caro, la llevo a su casa. cálmese
por favor.” she doesn’t recognize his face

but she takes his strong hand in hers.
he grabs her bolsa, hands her una servilleta
and leads her gently as she cries
to her front door.

Lo Que Hace Esa Gente

The knife against the cutting board fills
the silence and I cut the potatoes into pieces.
As you mix the ingredients you no longer need
to measure, the smell of beans and rice
drifts through the house. You pause to turn up
the volume on the muted T.V and I add the vegetables
as an attractive couple kisses on screen,
your nose wrinkles from the idea as I stir the pan.
Tu tío escogió esa vida, y lo amo pero
Que gran decepción.

I think of him, educated, successful, smiling wide.
His partner’s arm wrapped around his thin
shoulders. The remains of a home cooked meal
staining his crisp white shirt and the smell of carne asada
still lingering in the air as they share a tender kiss. Nadien
nace homosexual,
I hear over the sizzle of onions frying.
Hot oil jumps from the pan and I jerk away
feeling the sharp sting on my arms. Pon attencion
a como cocinamos este plato,
you say un dia
lo haras para tu esposo y tus hijos.
You shake your head at me for over salting the pan and I taste
the disappointment you’ll one day feel for me.

Esmeralda Gamez is a poet in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Fresno State. She is an editorial assistant for The Normal School and heavily involved with CWAA. When she is not in class, in a meeting or at one of her jobs, you can find her writing poetry or binge watching bad horror movies. 

Photo by luis echanove on / CC BY-NC-SA

Rodolfo Avelar