I am not a cactus full of scorpions
or another brown and jumping “bean.”
I am not a chupacabra or La Llorona
come to life from legend.
I am not a rat, of sewer or any other origin.
I do not want your job or your money or your life.
I do not want to be a member
of the permanent underclass.
I will not fight some toothless meth-head
for the dishwashing position.
I do morph, however, into different forms:
—the benighted indigena in my colorful huipil
—the narco with silver skulls on my boots and AK-47s
embroidered on my shirts
—the abuela who has given up on Guadalupe and her
fucking Spanish roses and prays
to a skeleton in a wedding gown
—the fourth-generation American who is still asked
where I come from
—the fantasmas of the many, many girls whose murderers
will never be prosecuted as the wind whistles
through the cementarios of Ciudad Juarez.
I kneel on my daughter’s Disney-character blanket
as I crawl to the grave of folk saint Juan Soldado.
He was wronged in life, but in death they say
he heals whatever he can:
He can never solve my problem,
but as I am only a pet
I continue to smile, to defer,
to serve, to settle for less.
It is my only hope that in time
I will fade into an urban legend,
something nobody really believes
ever existed, and which, quite frankly,
indeed, never did.
—Written on May Day, the International Workers’ Day, 2017
Denise Dumars most recent book of poetry, Paranormal Romance: Poems Romancing the Paranormal, was nominated for the Elgin Award. Denise is a native of Southern California, with roots in New Orleans and the Caribbean, and has traveled widely in Mexico.