i’m walking down a street in mendoza. or what i remember of the street. the houses pressed tight together. each its own flash of color. i can speak spanish. their spanish. as though my tongue and i grew up here. but i am still a me that exists because i grew up anywhere but here. pressed tight in these houses. each wall another’s wall. no gap in between.

i go to her door. i knock. i wait. the door opens slightly. she peeks around it. scrutinizes me and my who / why / what i want.sometimes i ask if she’s paying too much for her cable. sometimes i ask for someone who does not live there. she doesn’t smell her own blood in front of her. it does not cross her mind that a twelve year old girl could come to this: fat / queer / not a girl.

the door closes. i keep walking like i know where i’m going. like my hips know this cement. same way the softness always makes its way into the word: calle. asphalt made sand by my molars. tender as the tip of my tongue to my back teeth. the lisp written into my genetics. like the fat and / queer and / not a girl.

my mom asks about abuela. i tell her: we drank mate. we had a lovely time. she only had nice things to say.

the relief in her smile becomes my language. becomes our blood.

Published in the Breakbeat Poet's Anthology Latinext