Sometimes (Pome #7)

Laura rises
Christmas morning.
'Don't f*ck with me, ' she snaps.
'I don't want to argue

- you hear me! '

I drift towards the table,
bite into an elephant ear.
They're not as good as mom's buñuelos,
but Durango's are pretty good.

'Did you get me anything, ' she asks.
'Probably some cheap sh*t from Waldo's Dollar Mart?
You can take it back –

you're such an a*s.'

The tamale is hot -
nothing beats a pork tamale
with a cup of chocolate.
My great-grandmother use to say
in the old days
our people made tamales filled
with frog meat

- I think I'll just have coffee.

'You didn't think of me -
did you?
Look!
We have a sh*t-pile of presents,
and not one is mine.
Not one!
I know we agreed,
but I bought you stocking stuffers.'

The Christmas tree is gorgeous.
The tradition comes from her people,
but I've never seen Laura lift a finger
to decorate the freaking thing.
'You’re a jerk, ” she cries.
“Last night you had your way with me
- didn't you? '

'You’re such a b*tch, ' I sigh.

She buries her face in her hands.
I want to hold her, but she'll push me away
then we'll really go at it.

I want to tell her
the kid shot dead last night
was Isaac.
I want to tell her
my nephew, Miguel,
is in Kendall
and could be going downstate
for thirty years,
said he was worried
about homosexual stuff,
and we both laughed;
but when I was in the parking lot,
I wept till I almost choked.
I want to tell her that Mundo
has AIDS and isn't doing well,
and they're all under twenty.
I want to tell her all this shit,
but I don't.

I want to tell her
I miss my old man and mom.
that I miss mom's
daily prayers for me,
that I miss my old man's voice
at church on Christmas Eve,
but instead, I mumble,
'You know,
the tree symbolizes the trinity.
You know, the shape of it -
the triangle.
The Father, The Son, and
The Holy Ghost.'

I hear noise ouside the window.
It's Juan and Teresa.
They stumble across my yard.
Snow spirits swirl around them
and disappear in the wind.
They’re consumed by firewater.
Their laughter jars my bones.

'The other night, ' I begin,
'I caught Juan behind our garage
giving some old fart a bl*w job.'
Laura doesn't even look at me.

'In the old days,
he was so beautiful,
gliding across the football field.
No one could touch him.
He led our offense,
and I anchored our defense.
We were Cisco and Pancho.

Sometimes,
you just need a break.
One f*cking break.'

Laura turns on Nat King Cole.
He was my old man's favorite.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
comes in soft waves.

'You know, ain't nobody better
than Nat king Cole.'

“Yeah, I know, ” she smiles.
“All we need is Nat King Cole
and a white Christmas.”
She walks over and hugs me.

Outside light snow falls.
A line of Mexican women
balance huge bags of dirty clothes
on their heads.
They disappear around the corner,
their strange tongues fluttering
in an alien world.

by Esteban Arellano

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