heads or tails but never hands or legs:


Amalia Mayita MendezTita Shines, El Salvador (photograph)


It jingles in the pockets of her apron
with embroidered ruffles, ribbons and bows—
in the intricacies of this cloth cash register
and the abundance of her body, she squats
in stratas of hips, belly, breasts.

It’s how she waves the loose skin of her arms
over the rising and falling of flies that swarm
the baskets of fruit: pink marañon plucked too young,
lustered avocados, the short white skirts
of the izote flower, weeping mangos, the split smile
of the papaya seeds, black-bruised platanos,
and collected at her feet yesterday’s zapotes
in their shriveled brown skins.

It’s all in her hands, the way she slings the braided lasso of hair
over her shoulder, wraps it into a bun and stakes it
with a sharpened pencil; the way she sandal-swats
a dog sniffing at her child sleeping in a wicker basket;
it’s her thumb that pierces the mandarin’s heart,
her fingers that bring the sweet flesh to her gold-capped teeth,
as she chews and spits the seeds into her palm.

It’s how she plucks four limes out of the pile
with one hand, juggles them into the baggie
and somersaults the package over her wrist, twisting
and poking the plastic end into a knot
and places the fruit into my own hands
and, Nombre de Dios, blesses the day’s first sale.


Alexandra Lytton Regalado