by Gary Soto

Gary Soto

Wedding night
Graciela bled lightly—
But enough to stain his thighs—
And left an alphabet
Of teeth marks on his arm.
At this, he was happy.
They drank mescal
In bed like the rich
And smoked cigarettes.
She asleep
And the bottle empty, he hid
A few coins in her left shoe,
Earrings in the right.
They worked long hours
Hoeing crooked rows of maize.
Evenings she wove rugs
And embroidered curtains
To market in Taxco.
In short they lived well.
However in the seventh month
With child, her belly
Rising like a portion of the sun,
Something knotted inside her.
The ribs ached. A fever climbed.
Manuel summoned the Partera
And though she burned pepper,
And tied belts around
The stretched belly,
The child did not ease out.
Days later she turned
Onto her belly
And between her legs
Unraveled a spine of blood.

Last updated August 19, 2022