Why I Hate Raisins

by Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz

And is it only the mouth and belly which are
injured by hunger and thirst?

Love is a pound of sticky raisins
packed tight in black and white
government boxes the day we had no
groceries. I told my mom I was hungry.
She gave me the whole bright box.
USDA stamped like a fist on the side.
I ate them all in ten minutes. Ate
too many too fast. It wasn’t long
before those old grapes set like black
clay at the bottom of my belly
making it ache and swell.
I complained, I hate raisins.
I just wanted a sandwich like other kids.
Well that’s all we’ve got, my mom sighed.
And what other kids?
Everyone but me, I told her.
She said, You mean the white kids.
You want to be a white kid?
Well too bad ’cause you’re my kid.
I cried, At least the white kids get a sandwich.
At least the white kids don’t get the shits.
That’s when she slapped me. Left me
holding my mouth and stomach—
devoured by shame.
I still hate raisins,
but not for the crooked commodity lines
we stood in to get them—winding
around and in the tribal gymnasium.
Not for the awkward cardboard boxes
we carried them home in. Not for the shits
or how they distended my belly.
I hate raisins because now I know
my mom was hungry that day, too,
and I ate all the raisins.

When My Brother Was An Aztec

Last updated December 15, 2022