España Pequeñita

As in a thimbleful of milk, the drink
I licked from between her fingers
when, in fever, I refused all else—
As in the run in the hose, again:
we laughed at her shimmying
into a peacock blue suit, too tight across the back,
saying to us I’m an officer of the court
we wanted a signer of excuses, a mailer
of care packages. We wanted her
bodily, complete, the hip
a resting spot, a seat.
She never intended to sing us her song,
España Pequeñita, that little tune she made
when off in another world
thinking she’d never come back
nothing given willingly
but given as a bone
tossed to the advancing beasts—
her only poem, a simple chime
because in this language in the infinitive case
every feminine word
must rhyme with every other.
It ended llorar. It ended marchar.

Rachel Richardson is the author of Copperhead (2011) and Canticle in the Fish's Belly (forthcoming, 2016), both from Carnegie Mellon University Press. She has been awarded Stegner and NEA Fellowships, and six Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes. She lives with her family in Greensboro, North Carolina.