Zion in El Salvador by Emely Rodriguez

Abuelita wraps me up in tamalitos, so warm,
But she cools me down with Fresa Tropical, ah
Canciones de mariachi cry in the background, and we
Dance like we’re wearing clothes made of cucarachas
Executing imprecise movements like forced twitches
Fixating, fixating, fixating, on las guitarras
Gently strummed, unlike the singers’ vocal chords
Harsh, hoarse, heartfelt vibrations that tingle my eardrum
I’ve never seen tears fall in tune to a beat like this before
Just watch my mother’s head sway back and forth
Knowingly imitating the tapping of the performers’ feet
Like her body embodies the songs of melancholic mariachi
Musical notes invading her bloodstream, her lagrimas shine
Nosotros – felices en nuestras vidas sencillas
Oblivious to our nearing flight departure
Persistently ignoring the dates on the calendar
Questioning what life could have felt like before this
Repressing the thoughts of once existing outside of this
Sin mi país bellísimo, sin mi país, sin mi
This is my people’s holy land, but it doesn’t feel mine
Unfathomable experience of being both free and shackled
Vulnerable with no country, vulnerable within it
Withholding parts of my soul, trapped in two places
Xenophobes in two nations targeting parts of me, I’m just
Yearning for my country to be mine.

Emely Rodriguez is a Latina writer from the D.C. / M.D. area. She is in her first year of the Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program at the University of Baltimore, focusing on poetry. Her work has been published in 45th Parallel, The Voices Project, and Welter Magazine.