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My Nanie appears to me like cloudshift—gradual, and beyond my eyes’ own floaters
SW clouds migrate like laborers: San Antonio, Chicago, Detroit, Westland
I keep time by her rosary beads, by her childbearing and child loss, angina attacks, her name change to Angeline
Padre nuestro que está en el cielo nublado
Emblazoned in gold-leaf cursive on the fingernail-pink cloudbed on which she stands in her dyed satin pumps: I’m not Mexican, I’m Spanish
She meant I am better than my Aztec-dark husband
She meant my color is milky way, is Mixcoatl
She meant, I am lacerated by assimilation
Ford country, Princess House
Her skin as I knew it crepe paper with liver spots
Flour tortillas inflate like hot air balloons then blister burnt and brown
If you mean class mobility, say la Ascención
Some clouds move so slowly you doubt your own drift
Remind yourself: sometimes they are flocking, sometimes it is the stuff in my eyes
Sometimes I can remember her voice
I never once heard her say my name or her own en español but if she did I would break apart like Altocumulus
Remind yourself, your cousins: there’s a classification system
Cirrus fibratus, for clouds like girl-veils
Names for the ground-bound
Name me the god that ever said hydrometeor
Ruskin studied Turner and drew diagonals
One more thing ruined by the 19th century
Train your eyes to see shape, you lose shift
Features, you lose face
He who in his infinite wisdom crafted skies for human eyes unable to take in vast blue expanses unbroken
Name them for their mother-clouds
Cumulus mediocrus cataractagenitus, for waterfall’s vaporbirth
Remind tus primos, tus primas: her latter-day cataracts
Our Lady of Cloudy Vision
On our First Communion banners she spelled out our names in felt letters
Blood of Christ, Body of Christ: a cup cut from yellow, and a white circle floating above for the unleavened Host that dissolves on your tongue like history
Name me for my abuela-cloud
Say it: Alicia Angelita
Alicia Mireles Christoff is a Mexican American writer and Associate Professor of English at Amherst College. She is author of Novel Relations: Victorian Fiction and British Psychoanalysis, and her poems and essays have appeared in the Yale Review, Peach Mag, the Common, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, and elsewhere.
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