Terror Eye
used to dance to the Four Tops with that shaky
little hip-step she made up one morning while we
stayed home from school and glittered our fingernails

we used to go out with the same boys
sharing them on a rotating basis
we wore gold earrings dark lipstick black heels

great for dancing
and Tina would laugh forever on account of her
joyous disposition and the night air

sometimes we had to hold our breaths for about
a month and a half before we could breathe again
but it was always worth it

I don't visit or call or in any way communicate
with Tina anymore, not since her husband
showed me the damp narrow tunnels in his eyes

he wanted me to understand something about how
a man has needs and desires that have nothing to do
with nothing at all

except no job no money no self-respect or
some such foolish thing, I saw his plan of action
and what is there to do but reject the

heroic rapist and draw yourself away from the
crocodile who cries himself a river
because you have seen the poisoned shadows in his eyes

Last time I saw Tina she wore dark glasses
that didn't cover her purple eyes or blue cheek
and there really isn't any way to hide a broken arm

she ran away from me
so after I washed my dishes all I could do was
light three candles and remember

Tina used to dance to the Four Tops with that
shaky little hip-step and laugh until forever
with the coming of the dawn.

--- Deborah Fernández Badillo
From The Chicano / Latino Literary Prize
An Anthology of Prize-Winning Fiction, Poetry and Drama
Stephanie Fette, Editor
©2008 Arte Público Press
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