His grandma made the best pupusas, the counselor wrote next to Stick-Figure Abuelita
(I’d colored her puffy hair black with a pen).
Earlier, Dad in his truck: “always look gringos in the eyes.”
Mom: “never tell them everything, but smile, always smile.”
A handful of times I’ve opened the book to see running past cacti,
from helicopters, running inside detention cells.
Next to what might be yucca plants or a dried creek: Javier saw a dead coyote animal, which stank and had flies over it.
I keep this book in an old shoebox underneath the bed. She asked in Spanish,
I just smiled, didn’t tell her, no animal, I knew that man.
Added: Monday, November 20, 2017 / Previously published in "Washington Square Review." Used with permission.
Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and migrated to the US when he was nine. He is the author of Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon, 2017) and holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied and taught in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program. Zamora earned an MFA from New York University and is a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard University. He has been granted fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, Mac Dowell Artist Colony, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, Stanford University, and Yaddo. The recipient of a 2017 Lannan Literary Fellowship, the 2017 Narrative Prize, and the 2016 Barnes and Noble Writer for Writers Award; Zamora’s poems appear in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New York Times, and elsewhere.