The Seasons of Sal Si Puedes

She chases the others out of hammocks
and valluco pickups, singing
even ruins are fertile
I was raised off to the side
I was never given a single key
Her pride always my leaving
el otro lado is a one-way tunnel

I visit on the off-season
in a seasonless climate
I can never catch her
by surprise
In the patio
under wrought iron suns
and papier-mâché birds
in golden wire cages
she’s singing of the days
I’d cry as she’d grind
avocados into the molcajete

how weda to shed tears
for a pig
my uncles take over the stories
slumping over the large pit
knocking back bowls of menudo
to cure their hangovers
Lonestar cans floating
in the watery cooler

Is it getting late I ask
when time’s only told by rust
and firesales of bankrupt fields
a rash of children born without brains
or eyes, xylene lacing the soil
on both sides of the river

I lose face in the smoke
I’m a mirage of wing
and caged heel
The only one coughing
I’m shaking ash from the wind:
I did not get out
You gave me up

But who can hear anything
over her quaking swing
my mother a sluice
pulling apart patina
from grief
My mother twisting
the necks of hens
and bloodied up
to short sleeve

am I not still in your hands
that never ending dream
an egg forever hatching


Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow and the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013). A Leopold Schepp Scholar at New York University, she won the Seth Barkas Prize for Best Short Story and The Thomas Wolfe/Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Best Poetry Collection. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan where she earned her MFA in Poetry, and was a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2010, her short story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize for Best Short Story in Camera ObscuraA graduate of the 2010 Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theater, her plays have been produced in New York City, Washington DC, and Toronto. Her work is forthcoming or appears in American Poetry Review, Arts & Letters, Bayou, Puerto del Sol, among others. Find out more at: Sal Si Puedes means “Leave If You Can,” and in this poem, it is the name of neighborhood on the U.S.-Mexican border.