Tree Tops

Mother worried about holes in the road,

afraid the bus would hit one

and the monkey in her hair

would wake on their way to Lima.


There, she studied economics

and wore pearl necklaces

Abuelita had made

under the only lamp in the house.


The monkey, Tito,

was a gift,

moved from his tree in the Amazon

into my mother’s curls

where Abuelita couldn’t see him.


Away from the Amazon,

Tito was asleep,

unable to tell my mother his dreams

of seeing everything from the tree tops

and howling back to his family.


When Abuelita found him,

she made Tito a bed under the lamp,

praying him peace as she inspected pearls.

He still died from the cold.


Away from her Amazon,

here, in the United States,

Mother is silenced by English,

far from Abuelita,

unable to howl back to me.


Still, I ask her to tell me about Lima,

Tito, and Abuelita

as we eat hot dogs and fries downtown,

hoping her own voice

wakes her.


Eliana Swerdlow is a senior in high school, who has participated in the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program.