María, Patron Saint of Freaks
by Mariana Goycoechea
You were a bitch to everyone you knew.
Including your own kids.
You wore Opium Yves Saint Laurent
to clean Mr. Schwartz’s house and wore
every piece of South American gold on your skin.
You were as tacky as a Russian woman
wearing a fur coat on Brighton Beach in July.
Dicho de mami #1: Antes muerta que sencilla.
Your mouth was dirtier than a pig in shit,
but oh were you so happy.
You said mierda and chinga
so effortlessly one mistook them for silk.
Puta, cuca, chimba, no joda.
Hear those a’s in the last syllables?
Lyrics to a song
I will never forget.
Cunt was the only word in English
you learned to say without an accent.
Coños so strategic that
you’d mistake them for moves
on a chess board.
But this filth was always at the threshold of truth
and never at the stoop of a lie. Your tongue, a holy grail.
Dicho de mami #2: Sobre dicho no hay engaño.
You hated church and cussed out folks
that were all about la palabra de dios but turned their back
on Marlene when she had to sell crack to feed her kids.
Dicho de mami #3: Los que andan con la biblia debajo del brazo, menos cristianos son.
God created the 7th day and yet your small, brown hands never saw a day of rest.
Maya Angelou spoke of black maids wearing masks:
“too proud to bend and too poor to break.”
Like that one time Scott fired you because his three-year-old son
didn’t like that you refused to give him his Spiderman stickers.
Scott’s ego left you a check with the doorman.
You never came to pick it up.
And that’s how you taught me dignity.
Dicho de mami #4: Respétate a ti primero.
Or that one time I wanted to take all the trash out at the same time
and the bags ripped in the middle of Mister’s kitchen.
Dicho de mami #5: El perezoso trabaja doble.
You crossed borders, leaving your footprints in sand
the way we’re taught to believe Jesus does when he carries you.
But you carried yourself here with the dead in your blood and the Mayan jungle
on your broken feet, tired before they touched new lily-white land
that would exhaust you more.
You came here empty-handed.
Only to leave empty-handed.
Dicho de mami #6: Si no se caga por la entrada, se caga por la salida.
You boarded planes, crossed borders, entered prison gates,
mopped sun-lit kitchens on Madison Avenue, and owned hot bodega corners.
The baddest bitch through it all.
Posthumous dicho #1: I stopped breathing at 58. When will you breathe again, cabrona?
Ponte las pilas and write this shit down.