I am six and dressed in
a powder pink & blue organza dress,
made by my soon-to-be madrina.
Mami says, it’s a special day
I will be christened & sprinkled holy.
In this moment I pay no mind
to the tiers of crinoline under my dress
scratching legs flogged by a branch,
a tree switch of fire sparking skin,
daddy’s way of burning the world.
No one notices me as they prepare for the day.
Don Pocho in the backyard pit roasts the cerdo,
Titi Josefa, hair knotted, stirs the arroz con gandules,
hips moving to the lyrics of Bobby Capo,
Me Importas Tu y Tu playing on the radio.
Daddy, suited up, on the front porch,
sees me & whispers, just this once,
aye que bonita. His words enveloping me,
a moment teeming in sunlight.
I watch him out of the corner of my eye,
songbirds gather in my breath, alight on his smile,
the one I usually see after a shot of Bacardi,
softening his quiet suffering.
I collect this childhood day, save it like a seashell,
lucky stone or a rabbit foot & store it deep
like a blue jay hoarding acorns.
Deep into the marrow of forgiving.