Valeka Cruz

Valeka Cruz is a writer, essayist, and poet living in Austin, Texas. Her work has been published in various online publications and journals including the Valley International Poetry Festival’s Boundless Anthologies for 2021 and 2022.

The Pinch

You’ll feel just a little pinch, they say.
The pinch on your chubby cheeks as a child.
The pinch on your ass from the boys passing your locker.
The pinch of too tight shoes.
The pinch of the wire in your bra against your flesh.

The pinch of skipping meals to slim down.
The pinch of the nerves in your neck after work.
The pinch of the shot going into your jaw.
The pinch of your purse strings because you lost your job.
The pinch of your lips as you choke back words.
The pinch of not being true to yourself.
The pinch of a difficult conversation.
The pinch in your gut when you are right but didn’t want to be.
The pinch of not following your heart.
The pinch of losing what you love.
The pinch of making a mistake.
The pinch of regret.
The pinch sometimes lasts a lifetime.

You’ll feel a pinch, they say.
It won’t be little.

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


Grease-covered ventanas
Rusty screen door, screeching hinges
Smacking loudly as it slammed shut
Pale green walls smudged brown in places
Where manos mugrosos touched
Every doorway like a window
A hazy, dirty window with obscured views
Sometimes i’d see her sitting on the front steps plucking dried flowers off of manzanilla stems
I wondered who was watching from behind the dirty little window in the door beneath the
witches' stairs
Other times she was hunched over her old, bed-ridden daughter,
Mumbling and rubbing her with an egg
Curando todo
Or crossing the soles of her feet and crown of her head with fragrant oil
Aceite Santo
Velas de santos tucked in corners casting reflections
Like little hidden ventanas
Offerings of dried, dusty flowers
Sepia photographs curled from heat
Scattered on the aged mantilla covering the rickety aqua dresser
Dank and musty and old
Sweat and sour breath
Hierbas quemadas
Crosses made of palma from holy days past
Tacked above doorways next to
Aloe vera plants hung upside down by a red liston
To chase away the malos espiritus
I’d pull back the dingey green curtains and wipe the grimy window
To see her on her knees, burying a figurine in the backyard near the nopales
She’d sway, and mutter and cross herself and kiss the dirt
I’d see her in the room that was off limits lighting un vela negra
It illuminated all of the windows in the room
All of the windows except her eyes
The light had gone out of those long before


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