As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Ariana Brown—Poetry

Abuela, de Carrizo Springs

“[The local Mexican residents are a] class of foreigners who claim American citizenship but are as ignorant of things American as the mule.” – Carrizo Springs Javelin, August 5, 1911

Granny drives and dictates on the way back from Macy’s;
“If you’re going to buy something, you should love it.
And if you’re going to spend a lot of money on it, it better be great.”
Granny chews peppermint gum and knows the prices are cheaper
at the Macy’s at South Park Mall, but traffic was thick,
so we canvassed the dresses at North Star Mall instead.
Granny was raised in Carrizo Springs and helps me find
a graduation dress. She is matter-of-fact, do you like this one,
or this one, what size do you need.
Granny says “don’t look at the price.” A new phrase.
A big deal. I am the first of her grandchildren
to attend college. For three hours, I test
the weight of her phrase in the dressing room.
Granny remembers the penny theater,
the walkouts at Crystal City High School, her alma mater.
My cousin helps me zip into each dress, gives
a quick nod or tongue out in reaction. I am grateful
for the help. I haven’t worn a dress since kindergarten.
Granny remembers picking corn, tomatoes, cotton, pecans,
with her family, far as the Dakotas. Granny is not intimidated
by the upscale department store in the way that I am.
When we are ready to ring up, the store has been closed for five minutes.
Granny lands her purse on the counter, unveils six coupons and a Macy’s charge card.
It doesn’t seem possible, to buy a $100 dress for $16. If Granny is proud,
she doesn’t show it. Bears the face of scowling women who curse in Spanish
and don’t leave tips. Popping her gum, Granny does not thank the salesperson
when we leave. The only sound: a rush of air against the door.
Granny coughs, spits her gum on the street.

Ariana Brown is an Afromexicana poet from San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies from UT Austin. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a 2014 collegiate national poetry slam champion. An alum of Brave New Voices, Ariana’s work has been featured in PBS, Huffington Post, Blavity, and Remezcla. Dubbed “a part-time curandera,” Ariana has performed across the U.S. from the San Antonio Guadalupe Theater to the Tucson Poetry Festival to the University of Chicago. When she is not onstage, she is probably eating an avocado, listening to the Kumbia Kings, or validating black girl rage in all its miraculous forms. Her work is published or forthcoming in Nepantla, Huizache, Bird’s Thumb, and ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets from Arte Público Press. She is currently earning an MFA in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh.

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2017 by .

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