1. The summer was nothing but sweat and melted candy between my fingertips. Someone had decided that Texas was the place to be. So there I sat with dirt on my face, licking Technicolor sugar out of my palm.
I dreamed that Abuelita was a large beast, all teeth and hair, scraping against the corner of a memory of who she used to be. And when I awoke I found that I had soaked my shirt with sweat, or perhaps it had finally rained, but that seems unlikely.
I refused to sit with her in the trailer. She didn’t believe in air conditioning, only Holy Santos, and some form of witchcraft that I have yet been able to define. I knew that all I had to do was peek through the window and there she would be sitting on a crocheted blanket, watching a black and white television with the sound off—never sweating, just sipping on her beer.
I dreamed that Abuelita was the Mother Mary and that she came down from the red sky of this dirt patch desert with a beer in one hand, and her unlit cigarette in the other. The heavens lit up all around her. The Cowboy’s game playing on fluorescent clouds. Half way through the third quarter and they were up by 17, Roger Staubach and Tom Landry glowing like Christmas lights. And when I awoke, it was dark out, but still hotter than ever.
Abuelita stood at the door, calling for me to come in, something about coyotes eating young girls. I told her she had nothing to worry about, she hadn’t been young for a long time, and closed my eyes. Taking in the earth with each breath.
2. I find myself in the hot sun of the southwest with a light dusting of desert on my thighs. Uncle has left hours ago promising to return with dinner for the family, but it is more likely he has crossed the border by now. I look out to the river and there stands an ancient woman with a long white braid down her back, and skin tough like rawhide. A cigarette hangs loosely from the side of her mouth as she splashes water on her dirt lawn from a green plastic bucket. Every muscle is knotted and despite her contorted face she continues to shuffle across the yard kicking up dirt, and then wetting it with the water from her bucket, from the river. In this moment it makes sense that she is the heavens and the river is life, or perhaps she is death and this water, each drop, are the tears of those left to grieve. These details are unimportant.
The sun is radiating through me and all I can see is that long white braid snaking down her back. The sun gives light to the moon. Uncle has been gone for what feels like years and Abuelita is crying, again. I walk out to the shed, to get Abuelita’s last case of Budweiser because Connie is coming over with her children—all five of them.
In the trailer, Abuelita is sitting on her bed with a small electric fan pointed at her face. I open a beer and hand it to her, and she whispers something about a spirit, but I’ve stopped listening. The kitchen is nothing but beans, a few eggs, and those stale tortilla chips Lupe brought over back when Connie only had four kids. I turn on the stove and over the crackling of oil is Abuelita’s hymns, Connie’s youngest crying, the men out front swearing, and through the window the long white braid still snaking its way up the woman’s back.
Dinner is hardly dinner, but everyone is already drunk, even one of the kids and out front is a siren—out front is Uncle. I leave the family to speak with the police officer outside, he says something about Uncle, and I nod. As the flashing lights back out with a dusting of desert, I notice the old woman is watching me, and I wonder how I will get to the store for Abuelita’s beer.
Photo By: David