Tinta
Leticia Hernández-Linares

I origami secrets out of bone. Mother
tells me pray even though she doesn’t always,
if she does, mostly it is out of costumbre.

Worry shakes like dice, serves sentences
on my irritated tongue. I bargain con el destino.

Brown black clumps of everyday accentuate
my mouth, the thought bubble blurry,
lips hiding behind the shiny I wear––camouflage
for what fills my fists.

Little girl don’t go outside something burning
in front of the door. Little girl, little girl in her belly.
Little girl can’t buy pizza. Someone died there.
Little girl lives on same block all her life.
Little girl dancing hips, blooming hyacinths.
Little girl perspective wider than la calle.

Corners and crosswalks bounce off
my arms like fingers flicking. Tantas veces
he querido aplastarte la cara until my curves
and all black and many rings and tight and hair high
and attitude fade. What are you looking at?

The boom and bass of my defiance.
A nadie le importa. No one locks
the puertas to keep out spirits that touch me
wrong sometimes. Me meten plomo en el pelo.

The tinta colors in daughter discomfort, mother
curdling shoulder, little girl overflowing shame,
captures little girl throwing pencil at teacher
confused by new story endings she doesn’t understand.

How to harvest the scar tissue of these blocks
collaged onto muchacha back bones? No magazine
spread can display the roots of la calle sobre la piel.
Tinta runs down my cheek, telling
sprints from my mouth
open, like a pincushion.


Leticia Hernández-Linares is a poet, interdisciplinary artist, and educator, and the author of Mucha Muchacha, Too Much Girl (Tía Chucha Press, 2015). She has performed her poemsongs throughout the country and in El Salvador, and she has been awarded grants from the Creative Work Fund, Zellerbach Family Foundation, and San Francisco Arts Commission. Widely published, her writing has appeared in newspapers, literary journals and anthologies, some of which include, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Street Art San Francisco, This Bridge We Call Home, and Huizache.

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