I drew a zero round that boy, colored him in with Wite-Out to dry and crust behind that barricade. Under my thumb can you believe that? White of compact snow beat down with a shovel white of contrast. I couldn’t tell you what business a photograph had. That was not the way to learn: oozing, embarrassing, tinted memories. And now this news that I am a year older than I thought. How do I fit a loose year back? I thought I didn’t exist. A clean start my parents made. And a funeral for my brother. Just a bunch of flowers. I was there do you get it? In my stiff dress looking on. Pinching ants between my fingers.
The point is to smudge, to make someone hard to rub off. Holi, my favorite holiday and I’m seething. Mother, what else are you hiding? Balloon-blowing father, your trapped breath bobs in the wind—you don’t know I know what depth of betrayal. I’m caked with color, dried in every strand. Tonight, there’s a diaspora between us and I wonder what Holi’s like in the mother country, where people don’t act this distant in sight of each other. My cousin’s little fists raised red, dye bloodying his hair and you. Ferns shrink from lights strewn over this festival. My aunt holds me and whispers, Change your face, or you’ll grow into it. Tomorrow, I’ll stand over this stained grass and arrive.
Mandy Gutmann-Gonzalez is from Vilches, Chile. In 2010 she attended the Bucknell Writing Seminar for Younger Poets and in 2013, the Lambda Writers Retreat for Emerging LBGT Voices. She received her MFA from Cornell University.