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Saturday Stand-Off

By <a href="/centrovoices/meet-the-authors/magdalena-gomez">Magdalena Gómez</a>

Saturday Stand-Off

It smells like
en casa de Titi.
My stomach gurgles,
I stare at the cat;
the only safe place to look.
Mami’s in a slapping mood.
The cat looks like
all joroba’o
when he digs in
to yawn.
Titi named him Yo-Yo
on account of his moods.
Mami esta quejándose
about the broken machine
at the el laundry
how it swallowed her quarter
and didn’t move
como mari’o que no sirve pa’ na
and how she made El Chino
give her money back.
25 cents is 25 cents
she says
moving her neck
like a pigeon.
Titi sighs and rolls her eyes.
We both feel bad for El Chino.
Every Saturday is the same.
Titi and I joke in secret
that Mami jams the machine
on purpose
so she can have something to
complain about.
I glance at the clear candy dish
on la mesa del sofá
searching out the butterscotch.
Mami calls other people’s candy
mira y no toques.
She says the same thing
about boys.
I ask her if I am hungry.
She digs her uñas into my arm,
assuring me I am not.
Mami does not accept charity.
Yo-yo and I have a staring contest.
as I wonder how come

los Chinos don’t have names.

© Magdalena Gomez. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 11 April 2015.