Lima Limón

A la lima y al limón, tu no tienes quien te quiera. A la lima y al limon te vas quedar soltera. Que penita y que dolor, que penita y que dolor, la vecinita de enfrente soltera se quedó.

–Conchita Piquer

“Lima Limón”

Copla Tradicional Española



I want to be the lemons in the bowl

on the cover of the magazine. I want

to be round, to be yellow, to be pulled


from branches. I want to be wax, to be

white with pith, to be bright, to be zested

in the corners of a table. I want you


to say my name like the word: Lemon.

Say it like the word: Limón. Undress me

in strands of rind. I want my saliva to be


citrus. I want to corrode my husband’s

wedding ring. I want to be a lemon

with my equator marked in black ink—


small dashes to show my shape: pitted & convex.




I lie on my back in the grass & let the weight

of a man on top of me. Out of breath, he searches

for a place on my body that hasn’t flooded.

The only dry patch left is my hair, which he uses

to wipe the sweat from his face. He is disgusted

because I have turned the earth beneath us

damp. He says I am an experience, like standing

in an irrigated grove of lemon trees. He says

I am the water pooled at each trunk, infused

with citrus & pesticide. He says my moisture

brings mold & my body is nauseating.

I wonder if I had not said his name over & over

if he would still think of me as small & round

& fresh as lemon—as vaginal & arched as limón.



I wear a peineta & pin a mantilla to my hair

I want to be Conchita Piquer warning women

of becoming lemons. The goal: tener alguien


quien me quiera. I want to be my mother singing me

to sleep: a la lima y al limón, te vas quedar soltera.

My grandmother hated peinetas, mantillas, and women


who wore too much gold. She’d say this pulling my hair

tight into a bun. She hated peinetas & mantillas:

pero la necesidad obliga. I don’t want to be the woman


whose skin dissolves into the caldos she makes

for her dying parents. That kind of woman cries alone

because she has no fat husband to make her cry


in a home all her own. A la lima y al limón, tú no tienes

quien te quiera. a la lima y al limón, te vas quedar soltera.



My body is a frutería where wives send

their husbands to ask for a dozen limones.

I pull at the fat around my waist & unravel


a plastic bag. I count each limón from the bin

between my ribs & feel for the juice under

thin skin. Each husband takes a piece of my body


home with them in every limón. A piece of my body

they can slice into quarters & squeeze into

their beer. A piece of my body to press into sugar


& feed to their children laughing at the TV.

What more can I give than my body in pieces

to strange husbands? What more can I give


than the limones that grow between my breasts?

Tell each husband: Show me your list, I’ll pull

these items from my body to take back home to your wife.



When the stranger learns I speak Spanish

he makes me stand in my underwear & read

from Borges’ El Aleph. & because I only want

the stranger to love me, I read, & wonder if Borges

could help me jump through a period on the page

to my death. After, the stranger whispers:

You are lima, your tongue strips ink from pages. I wonder

if the stranger imagines lima as green or yellow,

as sweet or bitter—or as a city where the snow

collects on your lover’s eyelashes in mid-July.


Say limón: clean & ripe & bursting on your tongue.

Say lemon: broken & ugly & not up to par.

Say lima: Rimak & rima & spoken from God.


God speaks. Rima. Rimak. God has spoken.

Rimak. Rima. Lemon. Lima. Limón.


Natalie Scenters-Zapico is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A. and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México. She is author of The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015). She lives with her husband, border rhetorics scholar José Ángel Maldonado, in Salt Lake City.