Alexis Klemetson is an M.F.A. candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She currently serves as a composition instructor at the university, a co-host for a local author interview program, and an editorial assistant for Bull. Her work has appeared in Polaris and Collision.
My tía babysat me once. She fed me
boxed macaroni and cheese with ground
beef while she smoked long brown cigarettes.
In her trailer park bedroom, she played
a movie about the Queen of Tejano. It ended
and I rewound the tape, played it again, sang
songs in Spanish. She left to go to the bar —
I didn't notice. Her nose was bloody from a fight
when she came back. I sang Como la Flor
while she dabbed blood away from her cheekbone
and again when she put me to bed; she joined my song,
tucked my hair, and tried to teach me how to roll my r's.
On the forms that ask about race and ethnicity, I hesitate to mark Hispanic. My father is Mexican, but he left my family early in my childhood and I was raised as though that part of my identity didn't exist. This poem was written as part of series where I focus on the few memories I have of the Mexican women in my life and attempt to recover pieces of my own identity.