Mami Says Hold Still It Will Be Quick Don’t Cry
by Melissa Lozada-Oliva
you should’ve done this a long time ago. you always let the hair grow so long, didn’t i teach you anything? shhh, basta. there are worst things to cry about after all depression is an american thing/americans need a name for everything & I changed/mine before they could butcher it/your eyebrows they look like trees, meleesa/your mustache, you look like your father/ay/ay/ay/ay/
let me tell you about sadness
the time your abuelita put a belt over the door & she said your father isn’t here but that is let me tell you about e-starving. about no college no high e-school. Melissa. you’re so selfish for your sadness. you don’t know pain. don’t talk to me about pain. he doesn’t leave here anymore. live. i didn’t raise you to live like this. let me tell you about seeing your grandfather drinking everything away. he could’ve been something too, he built streets in Guatemala, just ask your Abuelita, ask her about the streets, the one he died on, the last time I saw him he was asking for money in front of my school. My aunts said you look just like a boy. my brothers said josefa you’ll never come back. no one here could say my name & now no one calls me. & i fell asleep on the couch last night. it is like you don’t even care. sadness is all/in your head & your hair is on top of it/sadness is what happens when you forget the hanging/belt over the door/sometimes children with empty stomachs is/nothing like coming home & feeling/like a fridge with nothing inside of it & remember what is inside of you: everything i fought for
remember your body/the body - a land of feelings we’ve been told to cut down/we rip the things we hate/about ourselves out & hope/they grow back weaker/but hair is the only thing that grows/The way things grow in the homeland/which is why we get goosebumps
when we hear spanish at the supermarket or when a dead friend’s sweater hugs us in a dream
or when a kiss is planted on the back of the neck.
the hair follicles click back to life.
the buds shake themselves awake.
they rise from the grave we insist on digging.
the hairs stand up.
a million ancestors rooting
for the home team
Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a touring poet and educator based in Boston. She has been featured in Bustle, Huffington Post, Paste Magazine, The Guardian, and her mom's Facebook statuses. She is VONA alumn and an MFA candidate at NYU. Her poems in this issue of Muzzle will appear in her forthcoming chapbook, Peluda, which is available for pre-order from Button Poetry.