Summer after chlorine saturated summer

we pretended we were cholitas,


twelve year old lambs in disguise.


I wore swap-meet Adidas breakaways over unshaved

legs and blue gray Venice Dolphin’s swimsuit.


Seventeen, our lieutenant, tiptoed lightly,

a damp towel tightly wrapped around her curves,


sang Mariah Carey’s Fantasy.

She’s Mary’s baby, her adopted baby.


Seventeen, thick with double D breasts, a hot

wanton waist and straight hair I secretly longed for.


I whisper to her – hard candy.


At fifteen she’d played with dirty dice, chupando

sandia lollipops; tamarindo con chile,


I swam laps in the pool, her voice carried;

high and sweet melting handlebars off cholito


low-rider bikes, swollen sloppy lips, saccharine

kisses, a rub down of adolescent stiffies.


She never played water polo with us.

Practicing her synchro routines, a sexy under water flamingo,


she danced for a boy I liked. I watched as he bit

her right shoulder, a small burn mark on my lips.


At night I wore flannel pajamas to her sleepover party.

She wore nothing and played digits with her boyfriend.


I reached for my inhaler.


Years later I held her hand, too much like my own

small and soft,

we buried her mother. Her father too.


She calls me on my birthday.

I love her. She’s tattooed, tired and beautiful.


Real hard candy.

Her belly was full that night.

Drops of honey dew spilled out

dimples and sparkle eyes.

She smiled when she cooed, sweet baby lamb.


Mother. Seventeen.


by A. R. Castellanos


Born and raised in Los Angeles, A. R. Castellanos writes poetry, fiction and memoir that draw upon her vibrant and tenacious ancestral heritage in Guatemala and California. Her conjured worlds encompass feral spirits, otherworldly legends, and the disconcerting realities of domestic workers in Hollywood celebrity homes.

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