by Lee Mortensen
I am the woman you always look away from as you sit whitely on the bus, the little pequeñita thing you don’t know how to talk to, you white girls with your pasty looks and legs, you shaved girls who can’t even eat the mild salsa I have to make for my husband now since he’s got the ulcers and the depression.
I have to leave him there at home all watching his soaps he used to always get on me about.
“Clarita, your brain is melting,” he would say when I looked sad over some TV body’s loss.
But now he watches them and don’t even look up when I come home at 6 off the 811 and then the train. You girls don’t even know about these kinds of men, these men with all their pathetic looks at you when you leave, and then you find the beer cans in the trash when you get home. Sometimes after payday it’s tequila bottles, and I know there aren’t no women no more. I never find condoms or lipstick no more. I never thought tequila alone could make me so angry, and that’s when the house breaks out with great yells and words on fire, but all from me now ‘cause he just sits there stupid and drunk and sad like a new widow, but he isn’t no widow.
The doctor says he’s got the depression and I have to be patient, and I try ‘cause once he used to make me laugh, and he used to bring me fresh steaks from his work, and he used to kiss me like no other man on this planet.
He used to be so sweet.
But he made me mad then too. You young girls don’t know about men with their loud throats, and their eyeing the women all the time, and their body noises day and night, and their teenage mistresses over in Magna who think they’ve got a rich one ‘cause he spends all his money on her. Back then I wanted to buy a gun from that cabrón on the corner and shoot my marido’s ass until he begged me to just love him enough to take him to the hospital, but then he goes and stops all of it, and that’s the worst.
I never thought a staring man could be so scary.
His face never moves and I have to cross myself daily against it, and daily I wish for what I never thought I would, that he get his light back and all his macho ways, even the lipstick stains, even the forgetting my birthday because of the muñequita in Magna which made me scream until I couldn’t talk or move. I even wish he’d yell at me all angry and red and ready to box my body to a pulp, and even that right now seems better than all this silence.
His body looks so heavy to me now.
No, you girls just don’t know about the ways a man can make you want to run back to Tucson to your mama even though she’s dead, but that would be better than this. You don’t know about coming home from a day of cutting chickens and cleaning chickens and cooking chickens, and he’s there not yelling, not seeing you as you walk slowly across his view of the TV, as you walk in front of him over and over to see what he’ll do, but it’s always nothing.
No, you girls can’t know, all whitey muñequitas, all thin, smiley mouths that twitch when we maybe look at each other’s eyes by accident. You think sometimes I’m might touch you, make you unlucky and brown, so you move your bag or your body away.
But I know you’re young, so I try to forget to be mad, and I don’t call you sangronas under my breath ‘cause you just don’t know nothing, but it’s coming for you, so I can forget to be mad. I know what you’ll see in the trash one day, and how you’ll feel when you sit all alone at the Nordstroms wondering if you should buy anything ever again ‘cause it’ll just get all marked with somebody’s cigarette burn holes and body dust and sadness. Just wait, it’s coming. You’ll know it, and for that I should feel bad for you.