A Daughter's Mourning Dress

by Rosa Alcalá

Rosa Alcala

I want to dye
your house dress black
and wear it
for a year
I want to wail
for all the women
kept from the public square
in official displays
of mourning
I want to do it
when the cashier asks
“did you find
you needed?”
I want to claw
in that moment
my chest
sucking every polite
around me
into my animal grief
take what you want
my mother is dead
my father is dead
take as payment
a scrap
of this dress
and she’ll say
ay, mamita
ay, corazón
and hand me as change
a relic of an old black smock
she keeps beneath
the coupons
I’ll have in my cart
condensed milk
to sweeten
the coffee
and more sugar
for the full-fat yogurt
I won’t schedule
I’ll let it wander
I’ll be the woman
dragging her snot-soaked
rags through mud
and across
veined marble
my hair unwashed
leaving its odor
in lieu of anthem
I’ll inconvenience everyone
I’ll do it
for the cashier
her fray as flag
leading my rebellion
for the girl who
wears her hair
over her face
like a funeral shroud
who grieves for
the freedom
she’s never had
to walk without worry
to owe no one
a smile.

Last updated November 08, 2022