Gustavo Hernandez


Gustavo Hernandez is a poet from Jalisco, Mexico. He was raised in Santa Ana, California. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Sonora Review, Reed, Assaracus, Word Riot, and others.


Grand mal seizures. My guess at the force
that was my Tía Baudelia’s burden. All
these decades later, from the stories
that my mother tells me. All her life 

in Jalisco, at the foot of a plateau, some
wilderness, in the disadvantage of an era,
to us, now, the disadvantage of old time, 
in an adobe house, in the mist. El gran mal. 

When my grandmother died, her daughters
thought they saw the source of her cancer
take the shape of an owl and fly into
the dry moonlit ruffle of a guamúchil. 

In town, depressed women were explained
with poison fed to them in food flavored
with envy or by the hands of jilted lovers.
But Baudelia was different—what ill will 

could befall someone who lived clutching
her mother’s rebozo her entire life? A sickness.
A sadness. Poor child. Poor girl. Poor woman.
I guess at her half-living in a stasis, paint joy in 

the warm dirt patios of spring, her ear to a rustle
and glint of a finch song in the poinsettia,
the warmth of the stone oven in her parents’
kitchen, the blossoms of her sisters’ fortunes. 

My mother says when I was born she asked
to hold me. That I felt her arms outstretching.
Her breath expanding. Give him to me, Lupe.
I can hold him. I won’t drop him. I won’t get sick.

© The Acentos Review 2018