Katarina Xóchitl Vargas

Resist Homogenization


Katarina Xóchitl Vargas was raised in Mexico City. She and her family moved to San Diego, CA when she was 13, where she began composing poems to process alienation. A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, today she lives on the east coast where— prompted by her father’s death—she’s begun to write poetry again and is working on her first chapbook. Her poetry first appeared in Somos en escritoThe Latino Literary Online Magazine. You may reach her via e-mail: Tonantzin108@yahoo.com

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We stopped speaking Spanish,
on the other side,
let the new crack our shells,
the California sun sting
our raw, turn us into lizards
the same color as the cliffs.
We grated our hearts for garnish
on new versions of ourselves, 

wore our skins inside out,
felt the lemon juice of migration 

burn us like fire, until I became
ash—the gringos pecking at my name 

like hawks at lizards. Fourteen.




The year floods broke the drought, senility unspooled Dad’s secrets,
strolled with them under blossoming cherry branches, dangled them 

like tangled innards helplessly bubbling out of his gutted past,
until their stench became synonymous with mother’s clenched jaw. 

Some days are better than others, even for denial virtuosos. Today, she
holds the shell of their 50-year marriage on her lap like a
piñata that bled 

bats instead of candies when it broke open. This wretched season flaunts its
petal sundresses at
her, dusting them with pollen golden as the jewelry Dad 

gave her when he came home late. Of course, Mother sees a mistress in every
cherry tree—dignity in every ax. We pry his boxed ashes from her wrinkly 

hands, brush her grey tresses, offer her mango licuados, chop cilantro for la
comida. Which way to the 13 nahua heavens, now that we live north of the 

Gila River? We dust, open windows, perfume the ether with magnolias and
Lantanas to mask the moldy words mushrooming in the basement of the unsaid, 

as Mother pictures Dad’s soul spilling like flood waters into the Zócalo,
sinking the cathedral with its weight, looking for a drain to flow into. 

When the dismembered cherry tree litters the driveway the next day,
we say nothing. We notice Mother’s wedding gown pours out of the trashcan, 

like a silk waterfall. She stands by the window in anticipation. Who cares if the
flood-waters drain into Mictlan now? The garbage truck has come and gone. 

We slice papayas and lemons, refresh vases, bring conchitas from the panaderia,
and, best of all, Mother sings again—hard-working hands resting softly on her lap.

© The Acentos Review 2021