Abel was on the north corner of central plaza
in El Paso when we met. Eighteen, already adept
at selling skin to one-eyed sirens.
I am hard at it Ese, was his first answer.
I do it for my family on the other side, was his pitch.
Amigos? Amigos are dead presidents in my pocket.
I like work, but breathing hurts when I don’t eat.
Early the next morning, I passed through the plaza
of poorly-paid services and noticed him lying on a bench
resting the smile of a child who forgot who he was.
He wanted Nikes, so I gave in. Bought him a suitcase,
filled it with angry tears and a camera, then took him back
to Chihuahua. I made him take snapshots of los hijos de puta.
When his mother called, the constant fear of the 80s
got in the backseat of my car. I didn’t want to know.
It stayed until he died the following year.
A few tears were gathered here and there;
I sewed them each to each and made a rosary.
Looking at it makes me think of a poem by Fernando Pessoa,
O Infante. my child, my prince.
© Sergio A. Ortiz, Publisher, Flutter Press and Origami Condom, 2009