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Recipe for Enchiladas Rojas

Juania Sueños

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Looking for my Abue’s enchilada recipe 

I find a lacquered bookmark. 

1946–2020 Carolina Ramirez Martinez 

Life marked by arithmetic 

a simple subtraction 

one plus grief is less than 

one year without seeing

her in a cargo-less train 

stuck with a calcified scenery 

saying If it’s my time to go, 

then it’s my time. I’m at his service. 

But the whistle corrects 

I don’t want to die yet.

I don’t believe in stars 

but she was a Pisces, 

like me, except she 

tilled sadness with a comb 

into her curly-haired-bun 

cherubfish scales flash 

where her heart used to

beat myself for how it ended

burning the sauce

the needling of my negligence 

of her last hours clutched 

by my squinting eyes that won’t 

quit trying to see

where her anxious hands, one 

grabbing the other tightly, 

have gone 

saying goodbye doesn't mean 

we won’t see each other 

the bookmark reminds me I should 

drink all the platitudes made 

up to handle death 

like I’ve swallowed pool water, 

hit the concrete with both knees 

& smiled after a man pulled me 

out Abue, are you afraid of la muerte? No Lindita. What did you feel before you

were born? 


I wonder if she was ever loved 

the way she wanted. 

In an unaddressed letter left in her 


No dije nada. Me hice pendeja. 

I never heard her curse 

yet she wrote pendeja as if 

there was no delicate way 

no other way to say 

but there’s no need to ask 

she didn’t send the letter

loyally remitted all offenses

She just laid boca-abajo 

like a newborn búho 

in a sterilized bed. 

It helps her oxygen, they said. 

& there’s no need 

to state it didn’t. 

She must be on the balcony now 

where Tia Coco said she hung 

out remedies for transgressions 

committed against her 

hair a bird’s nest, hooked 

back beneath a chiffon

coffee-stained blouse. 

A Caguama on the floor 

keeping her company. 

I gather a few wide guajillos, 

three colas de chile de árbol, 

a pizca de chocolate 

watch the chopped onions bounce 

in hot oil like fallen teeth 

in the summer concrete. 

I am missing something 

typing Abue into my phone 

I remember I must work 

from memory

Juania Sueños is a cursi Chicanx. She is bad at writing bios, but excellent at finding peculiar objects on sidewalks. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Texas State & other boring credentials given to her by institutions. She is a translator of Spanish works. She co-founded & is an editor at the non-profit publication Infrarrealista Review. Her work has appeared in Acentos Review, New York Quarterly, Sybil Journal, The Skink Beat Review, and Porter House Review. She will serve as the 2023 Writer in Residence for Texas After Violence Project. She was the 2019 recipient of the Editorial Fellowship from the Center for the Study of the Southwest. Juania is currently working on a novel based on her family in hopes of highlighting the West’s impacts on Mexico. When she is not cuddling her newborn Artemio and chihuahua Chan, Juania is writing about the occupation of spaces in-between. She is a migratory bird from Zacatécas.

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