From Natalia Treviño’s book “Lavando La Dirty Laundry”
Lavando La Dirty Laundry
’Uelita, we were kneading the flour on your metal kitchen table
when you told me my grandfather had girlfriends.
Measuring granules of salt. You said it explained the day
he threw your ironing into the mud.
There you were, holding the steaming
iron in your hot cement house.
You heard a fellow at the front door, calling for my grandfather
Raul! Raul! Raul? And you let the man in,
seated him in your home,
offered him agua fresca, for the heat.
’Uelito arrives in that moment.
Sees you handing
the fellow a drink,
screams, ¡Lárgate de aquí!
¡Hijo de su madre! ¡Cabron!
Throwing the man and your fresh, hot whites
into the muddy street.
33And he did not speak
to you for days. Left you to guess
what the fellow had done.
Your pile of laundry
flung to a trampled mess.
You gathered it,
left it sagging, soaking in a bucket
for days while the rain kept you from washing again.
Years later, after ’Uelito died,
the fellow came again:
He thought you were cheating with me, he said.
I’d seen him with a girl.
And he thought you and I were
You tell me this and press the dough into the tin
clang of the table, a metal heart yielding below your fingers.
This selection comes from Natalia Trevino’s book Lavando La Dirty Laundry, available from Mongrel Empire Press! Find more details about the book here!
Born in Mexico City and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Natalia Treviño was raised in Spanish by her parents while Bert and Ernie gave her English lessons on the side. Natalia is an Associate Professor of English at Northwest Vista College and a member of the Macondo Foundation, a writer’s workshop aimed at encouraging non-violent social change. She graduated from UTSA’s graduate English and The University of Nebraska’s MFA in Creative Writing programs. Her poetry has won the Alfredo Moral de Cisneros Award for Emerging Writers from Sandra Cisneros, the Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award, the 2008 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and the San Antonio Artists Foundation Literary Award. Natalia’s fiction has appeared in Curbstone Press’s Mirrors Beneath the Earth and The Platte Valley Review. Nonfiction essays are included in the Wising Up Anthologies, Shifting Balance Sheets: Women’s Stories of Naturalized Citizens and Complex Allegiances: Constellations of Immigration. She is currently finishing her novel, La Cruzada. Often working the community programs to increase young adult literacy, she has taught classes at women’s and children’s shelters as well as teen detention centers. Having experienced a bi-national and bicultural life, she hopes to raise understanding between people divided by arbitrary borders. She lives with her husband, Stewart and son, Stuart just outside of San Antonio, Texas.
Darren C. Demaree is the author of three poetry collections, As We Refer to Our Bodies (2013, 8th House), Temporary Champions (2014, Main Street Rag), and Not For Art For Prayer (2015, 8th House). He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. He is also a founding editor of Ovenbird Poetry and AltOhio. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.