Runs in My Veins

All those nights praying to holy cards taped above my bed—Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgen de Guadalupe, please make my boobs grow. Smoothing my hand over the cool surface of the Duran Duran poster: if I can hold my breath for two minutes that means Simon le Bon loves me (or the leather-gloved fireman that hurled our Christmas tree onto the roof of our station wagon). An oversized stuffed bunny protected me nights, but was banished to the closet when l read Bunnicula. I looked forward to sleepovers. Soon our Barbies and Kens were getting down and dirty, and one day, when my mother whipped off the bed sheet like the tada! in a magic show and caught my cousins and I playing doctor, she spanked us and brought out the Encyclopedia Britannica’s picture of a many-layered woman. My mother turned the first page and peeled off the skin, then the landscape of pink muscle, the birdcage of bone, until the woman was stripped to a puzzle of multi-colored organs. As my mother pointed to the pink sac between the woman’s legs, I thought of the crimson-stained panties I’d found in her sink and the zipping noise Michelle Rodriguez’s red windbreaker made while we walked to the cafeteria as she offered to explain the origin of babies in exchange for my tater tots. It had to do with love and pain and how blood bound these together. Blood signaled a wound and a wound, pain. But love? A longing extended thin like a hot wire across my body. Driving to school the next day, my mother asked what I knew about sex—I said nothing, hunched like a rabbit in the backseat of our station wagon, squeezing my cut kneecap, my lips pressed to the jeweled mystery.

Alexandra Lytton Regalado, co-founder of Kalina Press, is author, editor, and/or translator of ten Central American-themed books, most recently the bilingual Salvadoran poetry anthology Theatre Under My Skin (2014). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Notre Dame Review, Puerto del Sol, Phoebe, MiPOesias, Narrative, OCHO, and elsewhere.