Who’s to say what prompted this. Who’s to say if this display of bodily might, this performance of scorned womanhood, is justified, justifying some wrongdoing, some emotion repressed. The skin of his cheek is still red and supple through the rice-and-beans steam of the kitchen. The sound of the impact still resounds. He’s no angel, this man I call my father, hero to me and plunderer to her, my mother. What she does here in this living room she does because of me. Because I have made it into the picture. Because I have become the picture. Because it is no longer just him and her.
He made me this way, she says, and who am I to disagree with her? Clueless child as I am. In my head is her creation story: Zeus is my father, and my mother the first human made out of clay. His hands bringing her to form. Imperfect, flawed, stubborn, because my mother is. My mother who is reactionary, who hurts because she has been hurt, who uses words in particular ways because words have been used against her in particular ways. Her devastation of syntax I know intimately. My father is no Zeus, however, for his story is equally as tragic, equally as mortal as hers. To make a myth of them, if I am to do it, how? This man and woman I call my parents, here before me, at a standstill, eyes locked, posture of body ready to strike. What is their origin story? It’s my mother passing him on the street in the late 80’s, a Puerto Rican neighborhood no longer Puerto Rican, now Mexican and Central American. He’s a modern-day Moctezuma there on the porch front step, his long, black hair down to his butt, his dark brown eyes and skin, his field-working musculature, this newcomer from a small pueblo in Mexico that is my father. Does she want him to ravage her or does she want to ravage him?
The erotics of a new-age conquest.
My mother has always been a tour de force of womanhood. This origin story of how they meet dissolves as I enter the picture, as the lust of their love dissipates, as they become a pair with history, as the mysterious allure of the other is lost through knowing.
What could have been if I had not been?
What could they have been if the burden of the child, the burden of the heteronormative expectation, did not have to be fulfilled?