My mother was born from the sea-foam of Ensenada's pacific coast–una sirena; a mermaid whose song cradles me bedside, because I am afraid of silence.
She sings, “Corre, vuela
Corta las olas del mar
Quien pudiera a una sirena encontrar?”
like the oceans in conch shells, lapping at my sleepy eyes until I sleep, and I dream of my mother again:
women in white tunics under wooden ceilings; yellow, red, green, and pink roses embroidered on her chest
standing before woven baskets peeling and wrapping maize tamales with corn husks–
I smell my mother in the boiling water.
I smell my mother in the boiling chocolate. She fills the room with clove-cinnamon steam to keep me and my sister warm
while a hurricane soaks into the drywall and floods the dirt roads of my neighborhood, making rivers for my friends to play with in the morning
And as the sun rises,
I see my mother’s smile shaped by a rabble of Monarch butterflies hugging the trees of Michoacan and tickling my nose
and I hear laughter.
She stands in my doorway, five foot two, the color of soil, and she says
“Gewd morneeng, rey” when I wake up, and
“Buenas noches, mijo” when I fall asleep, and
“Te quiero mas que el mundo entero, Brian”
or, “Te mato a nalgadas, pinche mocoso”
she speaks with a baja accent, thick, full of love
and anger–like the earth: where part of it quakes while another is still our house rumbles with her voice, and shatters plates
but in the aftermath hums of soft tears and apologies reminding me
when I was born, she held me like she held her own heart, hot as coals, trembling close to her chest the beat reminded us we were both alive–
viva. viva. viva.
My mother is the smell of desert sun turning sand to glass, and the blur of distant heat glowing like mirrors melting in ice
She is the lingering scent of my fathers breath, years after his ashes scattered into the air–the dust pouring from an hour glass snapped in half, together with 20 years of marriage
and 19 years of me
and she is the Sun at the end of our horizon where we watch his ashes float to, our respite when we lose them in the coming night
the sun sets.
–poem by BRIAN MARTIN