Tijuana (from “Letting Go”)

Southern California unwinds like a filmstrip

Unreels when we cross the border in the mint green Edsel

Men run into the street to meet my father and meLe

Wave their arms and say, “Senor! Senorita!”

He gets out to make a deal

Fifty dollars for new upholstery

Twenty for a new set of rims

He ends with a joke about us getting married

They laugh. I look at the ground.

On the street I look at the pinatas and sombreros

Embroidered with the name of the city

Serapes woven with yarn in colors not found in nature

My father sees a purse like his cowboy boots,

Ostrich skin with dimples where their feathers were plucked

Like the pimples pushing through my skin

And the hairs above my lip that I’m starting to pull out with

Tweezers like tiny forceps.

He sees me eyeing a silver bracelet inset with abalone flowers

Says to the cashier, “She’ll take this one,”

Slams it on the glass counter

I flinch

He pays for it

Clamps it to my wrist.

We walk past darkened bars

Disinfectant wafting from open doors

But my father buys his tequila on the street

Where we eat tacos full of meat and beans

Let the juice dribble into the wrappers and down our arms

And don’t speak.

Going back we see a man

With no hands and no feet

He sits on a cart with a can that says, “Please”

I reach down, and my bracelet sounds like

Money in his cup

My father walks on.

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