maquiladoras (the reach of her paws)
by Monique Quintana
When I was a little girl, my mother told me stories about how there were sightings of wild black cats in places where they shouldn’t be. They were magick or cryptozoology, the kind of creature I’d find in my grandmother’s magazines on Sunday morning, the stacks rotting away under the rose garden on her altar, her rosary beads small like pomegranate seeds, and her wedding jewels, the shade of copal on a heap. Years ago, the same cats used to walk with their young all the way up into what is now Colorado and Utah, like little drum beats on the hips of their humans before the smog stretched the sky like a dream, they were there, climbing up and up to the stars.
Their hands knot the hot wind in circles, a song to the sun or what was broken there. Electrical wires slip through water puddles like spinal cords, and if you touch them, you can still see the bits of their morning breakfast, the echo of coffee from chipped glass, their kitchen windows like dolls with their eyes sewn shut.
My son finds a souvenir lollipop in a candy store on Main Street. It says, Made in Mexico. It’s a combustion of red and yellow and green and blue, and I wonder what tiny bones past over this prayer of plastic, the things that keep us safe here on the other side. I can see the mother and son waiting near the road, their legs like stems, the lollipop bright in the boy’s hand, and on his mother’s head a crown of crushed daffodils twirling away.
I can see the black cat taking the paths of her mothers that came before her. She listens and scrawls words through the trees and the thistle, everything that she can grasp before they slip away in the wind, and the roots knotted in the dirt will reciprocate, and they’ll scratch and tap upon the earth, looking for something that is recognizable, calling her, the cat, the reach of her paws spinning away like smoke.
contributor, 2018 third edition
Monique Quintana is a contributing editor at Luna Luna Magazine, and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among other publications. She is an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Sundress Academy of the Arts and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She blogs about Latinx literature at her site, Blood Moon and is a pop culture contributor for Clash Media.