Josephina is born with the notched penny her mother swallowed as a child
tucked in the folds of her chin. So beautiful, she charms the midwife and winks
at her husband. Always the one to pick the ripest fruit for herself.
Rosa, born in a storm of dust and rage, wails for a full year, even in her sleep.
Her fury keeps the mice away from their clapboard house all winter. She knows
the wind can change, she has her mother’s pain and pity in her hands.
Antonia starts to look like the others, but she is in on the joke, with a gap-toothed
smile and her own compass, too smart to ever be trapped in tower or pit. She outwits
the witch, the foreman, the pull of her own heart through the whirlwind.
Catalina is a weak flame, a late bloom daring the frost, a keeping-your-head-above
water. Already forgetting the feel of his hands on her hips, her mother says,
enough already. This is my mother, the one who stitches the crow to the sky.
Carmelita remembers the old ways, born with salt on her tongue, smelling
of corn silk and desert rain. Ask her where the flour is, how to roll out
the tortillas in the morning. Her lips are red with a promise that must be kept.
Marta always needs more love than anyone can give, born backwards
and upside down, she keeps asking, Whose daughter am I? Her mother’s erased
his smell from her bed. She’s thrown his name to the dogs.
Patrocinia comes cooing prayers, hair down to tiny feet, so ready for suffering,
it breaks her mother’s heart to nurse her. She carries a faith that shames her own
God. Who says we can’t love the ways we are broken and cry out?
Michelle Salcido is an editor for TRR.
Image: Mural Against the Femicide, San Lorenzo quarter, Rome, Italy