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Eileen R. Tabios



I Forgot My Mother’s Blood in the Sangria


I forgot the angel with rust in his voice teaching, There is no madness. There is only a woman brutishly in love.

I forgot winter becoming my veil after discovering I stayed for years in a story that was not mine.

I forgot Juana the Mad living her truth—flamenco’s First Commandment—even as reality snuffed the votive lights in her eyes.

I forgot joining gypsies to adore Juana specifically for her madness.

I forgot darkness was also zero.

I forgot songs compelling demon blood to boil in our veins.

I forgot the gypsy dismissal: No me dice nada. He didn’t say anything to me.

I forgot his cante was an olive tree that stood since Romans ruled Spain, since Moors invaded, since ships laden with gold from the New World sailed upon River Ebron.

I forgot his cante came from him like a rusty nail slowly pulled from an old wooden board: la voz afilla, sandpaper voice.

I forgot him singing the bleak silence of stars.

I forgot him singing a shivering woman with no defense as soldiers arrived to do what they did to her and her too-young daughters.

I forgot him singing a man thrown in jail for stealing grapes to appease the ugly grunts of his starving wife and children.

I forgot him singing the whips over his ancestors as they were driven out of India.

I forgot Clementina laughing at her bruises, both then and those yet to come.

I forgot Clementina laughing at the purpling sky and her father’s brooding windows.

I forgot Clementina ladling milk over white marble, then pouring crimson pollen over gold statues living in gardens visible only to third eyes.

I forgot Clementina stuffing Rosa with candied chestnuts in brandy syrup, perfectly grilled sardines, and the most tender, marinated octopus.

I forgot glasses of aguardiente to kill what cannot really be killed.

I forgot the blood in the Sangria was my mother’s.

I forgot large fists bunched on her back, hunched from reined-in wings.

I forgot the claws ending her feet.

I forgot draping black velvet over the sun.

I forgot she clawed her cheeks.

I forgot El Gitano ripped his shirt.

I forgot the killer nicknamed “Bullet” for his bald head and thick neck, all smooth except where puckered a scar documenting the flight of a gunshot.

I forgot Vincent Romero, sweat, marijuana, oranges, cloves and the fall of blue-black hair.

I forgot cantaores drowning in their own blood to sing one last letra.

I forgot green mornings pulsing with the ferocious flowers of red hearts.

I forgot Carmen Amaya who sweated so much when she danced that aftermath meant pouring sweat out of her shoes.

I forgot stepping into a story I falsely thought belonged to me.

I forgot my summer with Lorca: So much to desireSo much desire!

I forgot flamenco’s Third Commandment: never reveal the rest to outsiders.

I forgot flamenco’s Second Commandment: do it in time, en compas(s)!

I forgot flamenco’s First of Ten Commandments: Dame la verdad, Tell the Truth!

I forgot the pulse of waves echoing heels—two dozen pounding on wood floors, pulsing to a flamenco beat.

I forgot the waves rolling away from Asia to storm even the Americas.


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