Mamá Makes a Call to México

Mamá Makes a Call to México

July 27, 2021 1 Comment




I can’t hear you, mamá says—                                                         ¿Where are you?

             Over the phone, mama                                                    tells my tío to try standing

         outside, try the dining room,                                            try the bedroom.

                  ¿Sabes qué? mamá says,                                        vuelve. Return. Go back 

                                       to the kitchen.                                   It’s where she hears him          

               best, but the sound is choppy.                             Mamá

                            leaves our living room—                         try again,

                                                      she says—                      transplants

                                              into our kitchen,                  paces out to the           

                               porch, maps the backyard,              returns inside,

                                   moves corner to corner—          she says, talk to me,

                                                                  hermano,      talk to me


Mamá apologizes to my tío, tells him to give her a minute, she’ll call back. Whatever my tío says is lost to static          maybe he says nothing—still, mamá waits and listens          then hangs up. She flips the phone over, removes the battery, fits the battery back into its slot, wipes the screen clear, runs the waist of her blouse over the speaker once, twice, looks at her reflection, helps some loose hairs back behind her ear, rubs the speakers with her blouse once more, twice more, turns the phone back on and breathes.


Llámame, she tells me. I entertain her efforts and call her, and, as we both already know and expect, my voice is clear and so is hers. Maybe, she says, it’ll work this time. We hang up.


Mamá calls México. Again, she can’t hear him. Again, his words are stolen. Again, mamá will parse what she can and pretend the voice soun   ds the same as the voice in her memories across the border. Mamá will smile in the way        I am no longer fooled by. She will 

say thank you for taking the call. She will say            I miss you. She will say I’ll call 

you in two weeks as usual and both mamá                  and my tío will say they hope the

sound is better next time, though it                                      never is. Mamá will say te 

quiero, hermano... adiós... then s                                                he’ll step into the bedroom

and will pretend I don’t know s                                                          he is crying. This is all I

have, I imagine mamá saying                                                                  this is the only way 

I can cross the desert with                                                                           out the risk of being

disappeared                                                                                                         by the sun.





Moisés R. Delgado is a Latinx writer from the Midwest. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, and the nonfiction editor for Sonora Review. You can read his prose in X-R-A-Y Lit, The Pinch, Puerto del Sol, Passages North, Homology Lit, and elsewhere. Moisés can often be found dancing on the moon.




Photo by Barbara Zandoval on Unsplash

1 Response

Sara Triana
Sara Triana

September 09, 2021

Incredible! I love this. Thank you, Moisés and The Waking, for sharing this piece. So good.

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