“When My Mother’s Portrait Sings.” A Poem by Sebastián H. Páramo
From the Collection “Portrait of Us Burning”
When she prays in the living room.
When her son leaves the house.
When she puts her head down, chanting rosary after rosary.
When she gifts him sweets, her pozole, anything for her firstborn.
When she signs the Father, the Son, & the Holy Ghost—she wants nothing
When she wants nothing but steamed salmon—vegetable medleys in February.
When food reminds her of Acapulco with her sisters; she says, she always loved the water.
When was the last time we took her to the beach?
When this wasn’t quite the sleepy nursery rhyme she sang to her son.
When her son doesn’t understand there are no fairy tales.
When there is no one but God waiting
When we both listen to el Padre say only God can judge
When at night, the family dog barks at the door & the Mother shushes her like a daughter.
Portrait of Us Burning by Sebastián H. Páramo is available via Northwestern University Press/Curbstone.