Sarah A. Chavez
Halfbreed Helene’s Greatest Blaspheme
Halfbreed Helene knows that she has a mother and a father and a sister,
she feels as if she sprang pre-pubescent
from the dry knot of a drought-parched poplar: always thirsty, unsure
of which direction she should lean. She hears her peers thank their abuelas
for strength, thank their mamis for cooking, thank their fathers for bread on the table.
There was no bread, no table. Her home had roof yes, had walls thin as promises,
fragile as the leaves stitched together with toothpicks she and her hermana (who hasn’t
called her back for two years) used to make. Sun-kissed and cross-legged in the grass,
constructing casitas for their barbies in a corner of the crab grass yard. The wind
that was brief and infrequent howled through and Barbie’s exposure seemed insurmountable.
Without my ancestors, I would be nothing, H hears others say. Without my ancestors, I guess
I wouldn’t be breathing, she thinks. That much is true (and True), though the little breath
she has gets knocked out and used up in ways she doesn’t understand. Obviously, she isn’t alone.
Not truly. And she knows she appears ungrateful when a thank you doesn’t drop from her lips
when something good happens. No thank god or goddess or ancestor spirits. No thank amiga
or comunidad. She just nods. Recognition that a thing she worked hard for has manifested.
Most times it doesn’t. So in those glowing moments in which decorum requires gratitude, her
mind is too busy trying to understand what aligned this time to make the something good
happen, how can she replicate it so people stop pretending like it was a lucky gift
or something stolen.