Photo courtesy of Colette LaBouff.

San Marcos, Texas

Around noon the sheriff pulled up at my aunt’s house.
My cousins had been shooting guns
around back. Bullets fell like ash in the neighbor’s yard.

My mom told me to stay inside. I didn’t
understand how anyone could hang a Confederate flag

in their living room. I sat on cowhide
underneath a pair of antlers & tried to understand

keeping the dead as trophies. I was 9.
My skin was the same color of deer pelt. Not bone white

like my cousins’. I wandered the property by myself.
As I wandered, I found bones shattered

among the wildflowers. I leapt back,
got caught on the fence.
Cacti grew near the barbed wire, without blooming.

Like Pappy, I was disinclined to speaking.
He only spoke to remind my aunts & uncles,

we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.
By this he meant, just because you look white,

doesn’t mean you are. Like cacti
we only thrive because of our shallow roots.


San Antonio, Texas

I remember teeth in the pozole
Smoke clouded like carnations
from my uncles’ Marlboros.

My mom said it was hominy not teeth. My imagination
outgrew my body in this house.

Monet & Renoir filled the walls in the den.
No cousins here at least.
Everyone looked like me & Grandma

had an out-of-tune piano I loved.
I played Ode to Joy until Pete, her dog, howled.
She always told me to stop

feeding the stray cats
under her rose bushes. My brother played
Gameboy on her ivy green couch. After dinner,

I wound all the music boxes
& sat outside watching the sun burn
the skyline into vine charcoal silhouettes.

Laura Villareal earned her MFA from Rutgers University-Newark.