In the abandoned house behind the bodega—
where plaster coated the floors and brown bricks
peeked on the walls like fresh scabs on old flesh—
men dressed in loose garb furtively entrenched themselves.
We children peered through slits on a boarded-up window
and saw the animal, a goat, hanging from its hind legs.
Blood dribbled from its neck into a bucket,
its bulging eyes and peeking tongue
swaying slightly among shadows and dust.
Some of us wept and chewed our knuckles,
others gazed in dumb fascination.
Our parents later told us the goat had been sacrificed
by santeros, wise men offering the animal
to saints whose powers could heal the girl
who lived up the street and suffered from bronchitis.
We nodded and prayed, hoped the girl could soon recover,
and dared each other to sneak into the abandoned house
when all the lights were gone, when adults tossed
in their sweat-drenched beds
and the saints—content with their gift—
were drunk with goat's blood.
Out of the Earth
My grandmother wrenched the heads of cradled chickens
as if she were a performer: a juggler's dexterity in her wrists,
a nonchalant saunter as she retreated to the kitchen.
We children laughed and cringed and begged her for more.
She planted her entire yard, fingers buried in soil
like a sculptor's in clay, and sang when it rained,
her voice a drizzle soft as glass music
that never quite broke into downpour.
Sometimes she'd dance in the sodden weather,
feet splashing, arms swinging, head swaying,
until sunrays tore open the clouds and fell on her skin,
absorbed the dampness from her body
so the breeze could plant seeds in her pores
for multi-shaped leaves to grow unfettered.
She invited more sunlight and wind, her feet clutching
the ground for sustenance, a lone and sturdy tree in the grazing.
We children picked nameless fruits off her branches,
savored their syrupy taste in the crevices
of her trunk, shaded and soothed by the nectarous scent
of stepped-on flowers, quietly wishing, in our own childish ways,
one day we too would be reborn out of the earth.
Dariel Suarez is an MFA candidate at Boston University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Coachella Review, JMWW, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Versal. He is currently completing a collection of stories set in his native country as well as a poetry chapbook. contact