I write on a cloth strip, black ink trying to convince white skin of being browner, darker than the gringos just as pale sino que tienen freckles. I sit across from Mexicanas who nod at the word when
I read it, mestizaje, they know it but their eyes stay down. White woman to the left of me looks away. I think of the cactus along the border that snuck onto the back of my leg, my comical yelps, another
white woman swatted it away and we crawled under barbed wire, otras Mexicanas mirandome with eyes turning, the same movement away, a registered sight and a chosen rejection. This white woman
doesn’t roll her tongue when she says my name but she admires it when mine does, mis erres pa ella le dicen lo que mi piel no puede decir, que soy more than white. Las Mexicanas don’t have to speak to be
known. They never told me what they claimed, all I know is that my Spanish was met with their English like their skin deflected my skin, as if we had touched and I had hazarded their body with the
language I know is mine, or perhaps I belong the language, lo único que tengo antes de que sepan de mi nombre. Like cream before it is mixed into coffee, I lie milky in wait.
Hermán Luis Chávez is a Bolivian-American tending to the complexities of the human sensorium. A Marshall Scholar currently based in London, Chávez holds degrees in music and literature from UCLA. They have served on the editorial boards of Cicada Creative Magazine and Spiritus Mundi, with writing featured in the Greyrock Review, Aleph, and Scribendi, among others.