bruja at heart

‘magic is of the devil, and the devil is not invited into our home’. you remind us, your children, of this as my sister burns red candles and mixes her scented oils. i laugh. as if these things were magical. to spite you, my sister lights a black candle. ‘you are opening doors, inviting energies you don’t know how to handle’, you hiss, like a cat who is being threatened by the unknown.

you head back to the kitchen, where you resume boiling rosemary and herbs. the subtle, fresh, woody scent drifts throughout the apartment, almost warming it. you place the concoction in front of us. it is a soft shade of pink. ‘it’s the lemon. good for your immune system’, you explain, smiling. ‘i put some rosemary in a cup for you, by itself, so you can pour it over yourself in the shower. it cleanses away the bad spirits,’ you add.

i think your notebooks are one of your prized possessions. they are crammed with information about vegetables, fruits, clays, vitamins, herbs, oils, and their healing properties. you know what foods are good for the heart, what herbs alleviate colds, and what can make them worsen.

knowledge is power. you healed your own bleeding wound, with no scar to tell the tale. i still remember when i burned myself on my right elbow, and how you healed my burns. egg whites are useful–they help prevent scarring. my grandpa had skin cancer, and you sent him a package full of vitamins, clays, and herbs. he survived the cancer and he’s been healthy ever since. you remind me of this when you notice me taking ibuprofen or dayquil.

‘i don’t have any money, but in my will, i’ll make sure each of you gets a notebook’, you’ve joked.

my sister collects scented oils, lights candles, and draws the symbols she sees in her dreams in her notebooks. you’ve caught her, and you’ve told her that she is doing the devil’s work. we are catholics, and the priests warn against magic.

i laugh. it’s funny because you are magical, mother.

when i think of you

my mother’s stories trace the edges
of your modest mountains and
knead the bumps of your dry, flat lands.

my mother sighs. cuando era niña,
preparabamos la masa para las tortillas
desde las cinco de la mañana.
these mornings
crept behind my grandfather,
who wore straw hats and plaid button-up shirts with
a shiny, silver belt buckle that reflected
the stars. my mother recalls
when he bought her those
zapatos de cuero. the ugliest shoes she’s
ever had, she says.

méxico. where my mother laughed for the first time
like the way fire crackles beneath el comal. méxico,
where her mother sung lullabies in the darkness
and waited for mi abuelo to come home. méxico,
where drunk men cry together at parties because
los borrachos siempre dicen lo que sienten.
méxico, where women like Layda Sansores
don’t give a fuck and boldly stand before oppressors,
sin miedo.

méxico, this happens when i think of you.

spanish interpretations:
cuando era niña, preparabamos la masa para las tortillas desde las cinco de la mañana: when i was a young girl, we would prepare the dough for the tortillas since 5 o’clock in the morning.
zapatos de cuero: leather shoes
el comal: cast iron comal
mi abuelo: my grandfather
los borrachos siempre dicen lo que sienten: drunks always say what they feel.
sin miedo: without fear.