by Yosimar Reyes
Abuela wakes me up at 8. It is a Saturday morning and though most kids are up at this hour watching cartoons, Abuela already has breakfast served for me. The sun is already blazing and slowly taking over the streets of East San Jose.
After we are done drinking our café con bolillo, we head out the door and I follow Abue as she picks out a shopping cart that will be our helper for the day. We begin walking down the street. She pulls the shopping cart from the front as I lean my arms pushing through the back. The wind blows her long white hair and I imagine she is a river, a powerful body of water that carried me here.
She looks back at me and on her wrinkled face there is sweet smile. I smile back and though I begin to get frustrated that the sun is beating against my skin, I say nothing because she has always told me to be grateful for the light of day.
We stop at a big green house. The grass is neatly trimmed and the windows are crystal clear. Abue makes her way to the back of the house as I take a break and sit under a bush for shade. She comes back carrying a trashcan filled with bottles. Her small body bending as she struggles to pour them into our cart. I run to help her but she tells me to stay put, that I’m too small and might get hurt. I watch her as we go from house to house repeating this routine, the sun increasing in its intensity.
The houses on this block are beautifully painted, surrounded by rose bushes and a silence that takes over the street. I imagine what it must be like to live in a place where there is no noise, where everything rests in its proper place. I begin to dream of the day in which I will be old enough to buy a house. I want a big room for my Abuelitos, a room for my brother, and one for me.
As we continue walking, I see kids playing in their front yards. They pass a ball around and as soon as they take a look at me, they stop and stare. Their eyes look at me like I am something strange.
By this point our cart is filled with so many bottles that the rattling takes over the street. Abue pulls the cart with force and for some reason, I freeze. A slow fire begins to burn in the pit of my belly and the blazing sun helps it turn into rage. Out of nowhere, I get mad. I want to stop pushing this stupid cart and run home. My mind begins filling up with all the questions I know are impolite to ask.
Abue turns back and sees me standing there. She shouts, “Gordo, apurate!” I look at her and she can see the anger in my eyes. She knows this rage, she knows this fire. She stops pushing the shopping cart and walks toward me.
“Que tienes, mijo?”
I ask her, “Why don’t you have real job? Why do we always have to come and look through people’s trashcans? Why can’t we have a house? ”
She wipes the sweat from her brow, rests her hand on her waist, and looks down at me. “Pues mira, mijo. We are not in Mexico no more. Things are different here. Yo ya estoy muy vieja para entender muchas cosas. Yo no tengo tu intellencia, pero yo se que no siempre vamos a tener que trabajar haci.”
I look back at her, her dark skin shining against the sun. I want to be a big tree and have my shadow protect her from these feelings of shame. Tears begin to well up in eyes and I become mad at myself for being mad at her.
She grabs my hand. “Andale, ya vamonos. Cuando vendamos estas botellas te voy a comprar algo.”
We walk back toward the cart and begin to push again. Our rattling presence echoes through this silent neighborhood.
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From the Mountains of Guerrero, Mexico comes Yosimar Reyes, a two-spirit poet/activist based out of San Jose, CA. His style has been described as “a brave and vulnerable voice that shines light on the issues affecting queer immigrant youth and the many disenfranchised communities in the U.S and throughout the world.”
This writer received an honorarium for this work.SUPPORT BGD’s writers and help amplify the voices of queer and trans* people of color!
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