byEdgar Gabriel Silex

Cuauhtemoc was the last Aztec emperor.

he lies on his right side on the store stoop
uses the `A' section of El Fronterizo
for sheets and covers

he feels the missing-tooth gap with his tongue
his matted straight black hair is too long
for this heat       he perspires

today was definitely not his birthday
with the Spanish kids who stole
his twelve begged pesos

and the mestizo who chased and kicked him
for stealing a churro from the kiosk
but when he saw him fly like that

not much force behind the kick
he got that look of remorse
and let him have the churro anyway

then he gave that same remorseful look
to Amaranto's pleading eyes
and was forced to offer his last two bites

his rib cage is blue and red around the edges
more swollen than earlier       it aches to breathe
he must try not to roll in his sleep

rubbing the shiny tooth in his right hand
that fell out when he landed
he wonders what being lost means

if it is the same as the feeling he got
when his little brother failed to wake up
last winter       he wonders when his birthday is

feeling the ivory smooth baby tooth
between his thumb and finger
maybe tomorrow is his birthday

he tries to imagine what it might bring
rain perhaps       a cool day       a dozen tortillas
he closes his brown eyes

listens to the other Indians huddled
up the street of La Reforma Bulevar
he doesn't remember why he understands

Indians       their language a mix of Indian words
with Spanish       a baby cries far off
as he falls into the dreams of children

From Through All the Displacements by Edgar Gabriel Silex,
Curbstone Press. © 1995 Edgar Gabriel Silex

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