Monday, April 1, 2013

Prose Poem for English 3440

Burritos and Coca-Cola
Jack Garcia

His arm pressed against my arm, Zeek says, I’m just about as white as you, although he’s a true Mexican. He plays fútbol and wears cleats and isn’t even a citizen, although he’s lived here all his life. Speaks Spanish fluently, not the gringo Spanglish I utter. My father, brown as a Reese’s peanut butter cup, folds my potato burrito a certain way and I follow in his footsteps. Hispanic women have a chip on their shoulder, he told me once, while sipping Coca-Cola from red- and yellow-striped straws. Perhaps that’s why all his wives have been red-headed and fair-skinned, including my mother who once attended a cooking class for Hispanic women with my Aunt Rachel—I call her Tía Loca and she calls me J.J. or sometimes Joaquín. My mom felt out of place in that class, garnering glares like wasp stings from the coffee-colored mujeres until my tía told them all to fuck off. She’s my sister-in-law, she said. She belongs. I remember once in high school, being called at an assembly to receive an award for academic excellence. A white kid named Brody jokingly said, I bet you’re the first Garcia to ever win an award, and I laughed. Mia Medina, overhearing, did not laugh. Her beautiful brown eyes turned black and her eyebrows furrowed so close together she looked like the Mexican artist Frida. That’s racist, she said, don’t ever let me hear you say something like that again. On stage I accepted the award, but instead of pride I felt shame.

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