by Paul Martínez Pompa
In 5th grade I told Griselda Lopez
she had a face like a brick. Her hair
spilled onto my desk and I'd tug
to see how hard I could pull before
she'd feel it. Sometimes she nudged
her desk forward not bothering
to slap or call me pendejo anymore.
Then I'd turm to Bryan Massey.
Gum wrapper, spit ball, whatever
was on hand I'd lob at his head
and he'd finger-flick it back. I hit
Jill Pickford on purpose once.
Stupid Meck-sah-kin. She spit it
like a curse or stiff punch to my gut.
I don't know if I hated her for being
white or for making me hate being
Mexican. On family-tree day
we all stood before the world
map to tell where our relatives lived.
WhenI pointed to Illinois, Jill yelled
No, you're from down there. Down there.
I felt a fire in my skin as all the kids
laughed. All except Griselda
who sat at her desk. Stone faced.
Last updated February 24, 2023