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.
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.