Borders by Pat Mora

By Pat Mora

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The game has changed, girl/child. I hear you once singing to those unblinking eyes lined up on your bed Vȷbora, vȷbora de la mar, your words light in your mouth. Now at twenty you stand before those dolls tense, feet together, tongue thick, dry, pushing heavy English words out. In class I hide my hands behind my back. They shake. My voice too. I know the new rules, girl/child, one by one, vȷboras I舗ve lived with all my life, learned to hold firmly behind the head. If I teach you, will your songs evaporate, like dawn?

M. plugs in the curling iron squeezes into faded jeans curls her hair carefully strokes Aztec Blue shadow on her eyelids smooths Frosted Mauve blusher on her cheeks outlines her mouth in Neon Pink peers into the mirror, mirror on the wall frowns at her face, her eyes, her skin, not fair. At night this daughter stumbles off to bed at nine eyes half-shut while my son jogs a mile in the cold dark then lifts weights in the garage curls and bench presses expanding biceps, triceps, pectorals, one-handed push-ups, one hundred sit-ups peers into that mirror, mirror and frowns too.

I remove my dust- y clothes, slip on a loose white gown. Before I sleep, I say my poems, old, new say lines over and over wrestling with demon words. I wake early mumbling phrases, litanies holding a pencil rather then beads. I shower, wrap my hair in a white towel. My face is pale, my body hollow. To Big Mary from an Ex-Catholic Will you kick me in the teeth? Will your foot spike so fast from under your blue robe no one will see but I will bleed? My fault. I stopped the bribes hoarded soft petals didn舗t lay them at your feet didn舗t speak to you at all.

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