Xochi Cartland

Genesis 1:3 | & then God said, let there be tangerines

Sundays, 7AM, and Selena Quintanilla is in the kitchen.
Vicente Fernandez. Juan Gabriel.
My mother has conjured them,
her singing loud enough to raise the dead,
maybe loud enough to raise her daughters,
too. We come down the creaky stairs, hear the wind
rattle against the broken window, hope that it will
be fixed by winter and we can pretend again
that anger has never lived here.
I see my mother dancing with the ghosts,
so I go looking for my father. After all,
who said a living man couldn’t haunt a house?

My mother finds me alone in the garden
She steals the sun straight out the sky and
cracks it in her cast iron skillet. She turns to my sister,
pulls out the memories of the mangoes in Mexico and
tells us to peel them, and take a bite. When I was little
it was a game, she’d pick up a mountain and hand
back a pile of tamales. Turn monsoons into menudo,
fry up thunderclaps by the fistful. Once, when I was sad,
I watched her simmer starshine into pozole,
told me when I was born her body became the big bang,
she made me out of light on purpose.
See, my mother can make a meal out of anything.
Even the color yellow. Even her yellow dreams.

I want to say we were raised on nothing but endless love,
But it would only be one side of the truth, ‘cause the truth
is that it’s hard to love your way out of legacy,
my mother taught me that. My mother taught me,
with her windchime hands. With her windchime grief.
When she’s angry, it sounds like a hailstorm. When there’s
a hailstorm, she makes her coffee out of holy water.
You can’t be too careful mija, she tells me, so I wake up
to olive oil crosses and bowls of water under my bed
And we don’t talk about the ghosts in the kitchen or why
my father left. The whispers follow her, worrying, like branches.

Rumor was when we were born she marched up to
God Himself, gave Him the tortillas she grabbed
from the face of the full moon
Rumor was she wanted to know if it was possible
to give birth to your hunger
Rumor was He gave her so much grace
it fell from the sky like tangerines
Every morning now I watch my mother peel
the orange of her hope, a quiet prayer:
Please Lord,
Let this love be enough
Let this life be enough
Let abundance drip & fill the
cracks of all I am not and cannot be
             Please God,
                           Let it taste
                                          so sweet