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.
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