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'Cuatro Caminos' by poet Leticia Del Toro

Poet Laticia Del Toro reads her poem "Cautro Caminos."

Cuatro Caminos

Here is the photo, December 1974

Abuela stoic in the center

with a beach palapa background.

We are grouped around her, eight of us

in striped swim trunks, paisley bikinis.

I wear a navy blue skirted one-piece

and carry a blonde Baby Alive.

My mother hangs her arms around Abuela

bright in an orange tank dress, la quiere chiquear.

Abuela is draped in her rebozo at the beach,

replanted like a tree for our December holiday.

Later I will play with her braids,

she will let me unplait the crown she wears.

I will marvel at the length and blackness,

the old face that is my mother´s,

the laughter and the Indian words,

like “zúmbale” when she sends me

running when it´s time for the bathroom.

She will not enter the waves, fears the coastline

will plead for return to rustic rooms

guarded with songbirds near the cane fields.

My father will stay at her house two hours

as a gesture, but I eat everything she gives me.

Squash from a tin cup with chile

tortillas with fresh requesón

corn roasted to a char on a thin comal.

La quiero chiquear, I ask to bring her home.

We will live with this photo yearlong

until we make the trek to see her again.

Brothers and sisters, learn to drive, take diplomas,

discover the Isleys and EWF.

They will not dance to cumbias or eat tripitas.

The station wagon does not refill, for

the miles between Crockett and Zapotiltic.

I will return to the cane fields, to memorize her face,

the smell of the land, the sleight of the unmarked roads.