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Selected Poems from Loose Woman, by Sandra Cisneros
You Bring Out the Mexican in Me
Amorcito Corazón
With Lorenzo at the Center of the Universe, 
el Zócalo, Mexico City
Mexican in France
You Called Me Corazón
Tú Que Sabes de Amor
Arturito the Amazing Baby Olmec 
Who is Mine by Way of Water

*  Important Note:  Words printed in blue can be found in the glossary.  These words include Spanish and also cultural references, which will be valuable in understanding the poems.

You Bring Out the Mexican in Me

You bring out the Mexican in me.
The hunkered thick dark spiral.
The core of a heart howl.
The bitter bile.
The tequila lagrímas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.
You are the one I'd let go the other loves for,
surrender my one-woman house.
Allow you red wine in bed,
even with my vintage lace linens.
Maybe.  Maybe.

For you.

You bring out the Dolores del Río in me.
The Mexican spitfire in me.
The raw navajas, glint and passion in me.
The raise Cain and dance with the rooster-footed devil in me.
The spangled sequin in me.
The eagle and serpent in me.
The mariachi trumpets of the blood in me.
The Aztec love of war in me.
The fierce obsidian of the tongue in me.
the berrinchuda, bien-cabrona in me.
The Pandora's curiosity in me.
The pre-Columbian death and destruction in me.
The rainforest disaster, nuclear threat in me.
The fear of fascists in me.
Yes, you do.  Yes, you do.

You bring out the colonizer in me.
The holocaust of desire in me.
The Mexico City '85 earthquake in me.
The Popocatepetl/Ixtaccíhuatl in me.
The tidal wave of recession in me.
The Agustín Lara hopeless romantic in me.
The barbacoa taquitos on Sunday in me.
The cover the mirrors with cloth in me.

Sweet twin.  My wicked other,
I am the memory that circles your bed nights,
that tugs you taut as moon tugs ocean.
I claim you all mine,
arrogant as Manifest Destiny.
I want to rattle and rent you in two.
I want to defile you and raise hell.
I want to pull out the kitchen knives,
dull and sharp, and whisk the air with crosses.
Me sacas lo mexicana en mi,
like it or not, honey.

You bring out the Uled-Nayl in me.
The stand-back-white-bitch in me.
The switchblade in the boot in me.
The Acapulco cliff diver in me.
The Flecha Roja mountain disaster in me.
The dengue fever in me.
The ¡Alarma! murderess in me.
I could kill in the name of you and think
it worth it.  Brandish a fork and terrorize rivals,
female and male, who loiter and look at you,
languid in your light.  Oh,

I am evil.  I am the filth goddess Tlazoltéotl.
I am the swallower of sins.
The lust goddesss without guilt.
The delicious debauchery.  You bring out
the primordial exquisiteness in me.
The nasty obsession in me.
The corporal and venial sin in me.
the original transgression in me.

Red ocher.  Yellow ocher.  Indigo.  Cochineal.
Piñón.  Copal.  Sweetgrass.  Myrrh.
All you saints, blessed and terrible,
Virgen de Guadalupe, diosa Coatlicue,
I invoke you.

Quiero ser tuya.  Only yours.  Only you.
Quiero amarte.  Atarte.  Amarrarte.
Love the way a Mexican woman loves.  Let
me show you.  Love the only way I know how.

You Called Me Corazón

That was enough
for me to forgive you.
To spirit a tiger
from its cell.

Called me corazón
in that instant before
I let go the phone
back to its cradle.

Your voice small.
Heat of your eyes,
how I would've placed
my mouth on each.

Said corazón
and the word blazed
like a branch of jacaranda.

Amorcito Corazón

Ya no eres
mi amorcito

ya lo supe.
ya lo sé.

y ya no eres.
y se acabó.

¿Cómo les diría?
¿Cómo se explica?

Te conocí
¿y ahora?



I can't imagine that goofy white woman
with you.  Her pink skin on your dark.
Your tongue on hers.  I can't
imagine without laughing.
Who would've thought.

Not her ex-boyfriend--
your good ol' ex-favorite best buddy,
the one you swore was thicker than kin,
blood white brother, friend--
who wants to slit you open like a pig
and I don't blame him.

Isn't it funny.
He acting Mexican.
You acting white.

I can't imagine this woman.
nor your white ex-wife.  Nor any
of those you've hugged and held,
so foreign from the the country we shared.

Damn.  Where's your respect?
You could've used a little imagination.
Picked someone I didn't know.  Or at least,
a bitch more to my liking.

With Lorenzo at the Center of the Universe,
el Zócalo, Mexico City

We had to cross the street twice
because of rats.  But there it was.
The zócalo at night and la Calle de la Moneda
like a dream out of Canaletto.  Forget
Canaletto.  This was real.

And you were there, Lorenzo.
The cathedral smoky-eyed and still
rising like a pyramid after all
these centuries.  You named the four
holy centers--Amecameca, Tepeyac, and two
others I can't remember.  I remember you,
querida flecha, and how all the words I knew
left me.  The ones in English and the few
in Spanish too.

This is the center of the universe,
I said and meant it.  This is eterntity.
This moment.  Now.  And love,
that wisp of copal that scared the hell
out of you when I mentioned it,
love is eternal, though
what eternity has to do with tomorrow,
I don't know.  Understand?

I'm not sure you followed me.
Not now, not then.  But I know
what I felt when I put my hand
on your heart, and there was that kiss,
just that, from the center of the universe.
Or at least my universe.

Lorenzo, is the center of the universe
always so lonely at night and so
crowded in the day?  Earlier
I'd been birthed from the earth
when the metro bust loose at noon.
Stumbled up the steps over Bic pens
embroidered with Batman logos, red
extension cords, vinyl wallets, velveteen
roses, pumpkin seed vendors, brilliant
masons looking for work.  I remember the boy
with the burnt foot carried by his mother,
the smell of meat frying, a Styrofoam
plate sticky with grease.

At night we fled
the racket of Garibaldi and mariachi
chasing cars down Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas
for their next meal.  At La Hermosa Hortensia,
lights brights as an ice cream parlor,
faces sweaty and creased with grief.
My first pulque warm and frothy like [hot chocolate].

On the last evening we said good-bye
along two streets named after rivers.  I
fumbled with the story of Borges and his Delia.
When we meet again beside what river?
But this was no poem.  Only mosquitoes
biting like hell and a good-bye
kiss like a mosquito bite that left
me mad for hours.  After all,
hadn't it taken centuries for us
to meet at the center of the universe
and consummate a kiss?

Lorenzo, I forget what's real.
I mix up the details of what happened
with what I witnessed inside my
universe.  Is it like that for you?
But I thought for a moment, I really did,
that a kiss could be a universe.
Or [a look].  Or love, that old shoe.  See.
Still hopeless.  Still writing poems
for pretty men.  Half of me alive
again.  The other shouting from the sidelines,
Sit down, clown.

Ah, Lorenzo, I'm a fool.
Eternity or bust.  That's how it is with me.
Even if eternity is simply one kiss,
one night, one moment.  And if love isn't
eternal, what's the point?

If I knew the words I'd explain
how a man loves a woman before love
and how he loves her after
is never the same.  How the two halves split
and can't be put back whole again.
Isn't it a shame?

You named the holy centers but forgot
one--the heart.  Said every
time you'd pass this zócalo
you'd think of me and that kiss
from the center of the universe.

I remember you, Lorenzo.  See
this zócalo?  Remember me.

Tú Que Sabes de Amor

You come from that country
where the bitter is more bitter
and the sweet, sweeter.

You come from that town split
down the center life a cleft lip.
You come from the world
with a river running through it.
The dead.  The living.
The river Styx.

You come from the twin Laredos.
Where the world was twice-named and
nopalitos flower like a ripe ranchera.
Ay corazón, ¿tú que sabes de amor?

No wonder your heart is filled
with mil peso notes and jacaranda.
No wonder the clouds laugh each
time they cross without papers.

I know who you are.
You come from that county
where the bitter is more bitter
and the sweet, sweeter.

Mexican in France

He says he likes Mexico.
Especially all that history.
That's what I understand
although my French
is not that good.

And wants to talk
about U.S. racism.
It's not often he meets
Mexicans in the south of France.

He remembers
a Mexican Marlon Brando once
on French tv.

How, in westerns,
the Mexicans are always
the bad guys.  And--

Is it true
all Mexicans
carry knives?

I laugh.
--Lucky for you
I'm not carrying my knife

He laughs too.
--I think
the knife you carry
is abstract.

Arturito the Amazing Baby Olmec
Who is Mine by Way of Water

Arturito, when you were born
the hospital gasped when
they fished you from your fist of sleep,
a rude welcome you didn't like a bit,
and I don't blame you.  The world's a mess.

You inherited the family sleepiness and overslept.
And in that sea the days were nacre.
When you arrived on Mexican time,
you were a wonder, a splendor, a plunder,
more royal than any Olmec
and as mysterious and grand.
And everyone said "¡Ay!"
or "Oh!" depending on their native tongue.

So, here you are, godchild,
a marvel that could compete with any ancient god
asleep beneath the Campeche corn.  A ti te tocó
the aunt who dislikes kids and Catholics,
your godmother.  Don't cry!
What do amazing godmothers do?
They give amazing gifts.  Mine to you---
three wishes.

First, I wish you noble like Zapata,
because a man is one who guards
those weaker than himself.
Second, I wish you a Gandhi wisdom,
he knew power is not the fist,
he knew the power of the powerless.
Third, I wish you Mother Teresa generous.
Because the way of wealth is giving
yourself away to others.

Zapata, Gandhi, Mother Teresa.
Great plans!  Grand joy!  Amazingness!
For you, my godchild, nothing less.
These are my wishes, Arturo Olmec,
Arturito amazing boy.

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