Monica Rico

Monica Rico is Mexican American and the author of PINION, winner of the Four Way Books Levis Prize in Poetry selected by Kaveh Akbar. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan’s HZWP and is the Program Manager at the Bear River Writers’ Conference. She has recently published poems in Poetry Northwest’s Life List, Gastronomica, and The Missouri Review. Follow her at


Dear grandmother,
was it my eyes that gave me away. Green
instead of gold. Who hid the remote?
It’s one thirty and your novela is on.

I am not allowed to love you
or all your dresses.
I dream of a little girl who will not speak. I feed her

bread with cinnamon and butter.
Something is wrong in my kitchen. The enchiladas

are hard to make. I am covered in oil, splatter to the ceiling.
Is it too late for hot chocolate? Grandmother,
why do you bring me to your house at night?
Let me
roast you a chicken. I will share the wings,
pull the tender meat from the neck,
and remove the oyster of each thigh.

It’s those goddamn jesses I can’t stop looking at,
how they hang from under your skirt. Grandmother,
I know this is part of the process.
Fry each tortilla in oil and sauce,

crumble the queso fresco, and chop the white onion.
To think I once got sick of this meal.
The way my mother made it—

serving my father first.
You didn’t see her like this

scratching her ankles,
the leather straps barely visible.

----------------------------------------------- // ---------------------------------------------------------


Now, that the ability to have a baby is being taken away from me
I think, maybe, I would have been an ok mom until I realize
the world and how awful is it to be alive sometimes
to watch things around me destroyed or let go in the way
I will have to do, eventually with all those things I love like making my mother’s
bed, unraveling the rosary under her pillow, placing it on her dresser,
folding her clothes the precise way she taught me, and tucking them into her drawer.
I will have no one to do this with me, but if I could, I wonder what it would be
like to share my husband’s kindness or his unlimited capacity for my madness
because our child would think he is the tallest man alive, as I did when
I stood on my tippy toes to kiss him and thought he grew up in the middle of nowhere
when told me he had to chop wood each morning to heat his parents’ house.
He would take us up north, not as an outsiders or tourists, but as a family. Together
we’d walk hand in hand between and against all those shores I once found, uninviting.


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