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Esperanza This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Her name was Esperanza Juana de la Ciénaga Martínez Desamparada
And they found her in the water
Between the invisible line
The invisible line that separates the M from the U
The U from the M

And her name was Esperanza Juana de la Ciénaga Martinez Desamparada
Esperanza because momma thought she was hope
Momma thought she was going to help in the farm
And maybe change their lives just a little bit
Juana after her abuela
Abuela who grinded corn
Kernels between the roller and the rock
With her freckled
Brown hands
To make the tortillas
That she touched with her freckled brown hands
To feed Esperanza Juana de la Cienaga Martínez Desamparada’s mother
And the other six children
Or as she called them, chamacos

De la Ciénaga because that was her home
A bog
Too soft to support the heavy bodies
That ate the tortillas
And tended the corn

Martinez because a man named Martinez
From the country of España came over
To take some women
Pick his favorite
The one with the braid that went down to her back
The one with the braid that went down down down
Her back
And wed her
To have mestizo children
Mestizo children
With raven hair
Olive skin
And maybe colored eyes
Mestizo children that no longer spoke their indigenous language
No Xochitl, no Huitzilopochtli, no Quetzalcoatl

Desemparada because el señor Martinez abandoned her and momma
And the six chamacos to go to the U because that was where you went when you crossed the invisible line from the M
Because he said I’m going to send some money
So freckled hands and momma
Don’t have to grind the corn no mas!
But mami and freckled hands still grind the corn
And chamacos say no money comes
As they stare out the window
And blow hot air onto the surface
Hah…
Wiping it down with the side of their clenched hands
To make sure it’s actually clear
So they can see papi coming back
Wearing his leather bag on one shoulder

So they found her in the water
Between the invisible line
Her name was Esperanza Juana de la Ciénaga Martínez Desamparada
And she wanted to cross from the M to the U
To find papi
And so freckled hands could stop grinding corn
Between the roller and the rock

But she lost Esperanza when she saw the man in the suit
With the glistening gun
Held tight with hands
Pointed at her
Because she might be a threat
She might cross the invisible line
She might take our jobs
So callused hands pointed
At curly raven hair
And the sun was just a little too bright
For Esperanza to see
So should she go left or right
And the man with the machine
Used callused hands to pull
And Esperanza was lost
Lost in the invisible line

But the animals from the Ciénaga
Tended to her
Because she was the most beautiful corpse they had seen
Oh how her hair curled round her olive skin
Oh how her hands smelled like corn

And they covered her in leaves to protect her from the sun
And the lizards covered her in mud to preserve her beauty
And then they said they would come back
To honor the most beautiful corpse they had seen
And they would call to the other lizards and armadillos and they would call the cactus
To cover and protect Esperanza
Because to them there is no sense of the U or the M

And Esperanza Juana de la Ciénaga Martínez Desamparada
Was found in the water
And she lay between the M and the U
In the invisible line
While freckled hands grinded corn




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