they tell me
a mountain is good for me. disowned by my papa,
I don’t reply—afraid of fathers, decades of dirt.
my cousins would sneer & slop me wet rice—
no mercy for a curse of daughters instead of sons.
a family tree scattered. spit in my tea.
maybe I am unloved because I want to deal
in the currency of ghosts—to traffic in such
precious things as broken rosaries, jars of ash.
when I ask for pardon as I trample knotted roots,
I nod to the spirit inside the wood: duwende, old
man of the mound who snatches bad children.
dirty one, you can’t walk here. I confess, I am
a dirty one. in dreams my claws rake the soil
of my mama’s garden as I search for fallen figs.
my brow ignores its lineage, tries to forget
centuries of gray-eyed Spaniards lurking
my veins, knocking the lumber of my heart.
when I say goodbye to manzanitas, boughs withering,
they tell me I’ll never forget them, that I’ll never
find fruit as familiar as berries at their ripest.
I climb these trees, but in dark churches, hot wax
drips my knob-knees, sweat skimming the velvet
back of my neck. I can’t let go of what I think
is still mine—bloodlines flooding the slopes
of the Cordillera, silver in the hills—pine sap
casing my teeth as I say hello to the oldest apples.