“Two Years” by Gustavo Hernandez

and the house is again a bouquet of June bugs
and cement-split nectarines. My mother
is telling me about her father’s family
who hid their silver coins in pillow cases
and under old fleece blankets. In it, she is
still curious and a child. The neighbors
are coming home from work, parking
their utility vans, loosely coordinating
food runs when my father finds his way
into the story. He is heading east
to purchase grain from that same family
in the town of Jesús María, my mother
now married; their bodies are a strong
sunset mezquite and wildflower
field. Across our street an unusually dense
and active screen of sparrows splits
and forms again. But to truly give you
the time that has passed and to place you
here today, it isn’t enough to tell you
that my father is gone, that I am not young.
So I will say that I think myself smart enough
to see and remember that no road behind us
or in front of us is arbitrary or aimless,
as a set of eyes I recognize the sky
and time and everything. That I’ve
stopped trying to help her mourn him,
unable to find even a proper translation
for the act of grieving. That I know now
my mother is not just my companion
in watching these worlds shift and disappear.
As she’s weaving in the brown fluttering
of the frenzied sparrows and the overflowing
mouth of summer, I understand she is my guide.


Gustavo Hernandez is a poet from Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of six and was raised in Santa Ana, California. His work has appeared in Sonora Review, Reed, Assaracus, Word Riot, and others.