Correlation and Causation

poetry by Maritza Mora

Correlation and Causation

A wise person knows that they know nothing; at six
I knew that something wasn’t right but didn’t have the words
yet. We bathed in rose petals and dreamed of love, wrapped
ourselves in honey and herbs and prayed to la luna to bless
us with its gentle glow. I read somewhere that as children
age we learn to resent our parents for being human. We grew
different herbs in the front yard but I always snuck around
the back, harvested tiny, makeshift vines of hierbabuena
and washed them of filth; plucked each spearmint leaf off its thin,
wiry stalk; ground and tasted their magic between my teeth.

I told my mother that my favorite flower was the chrysanthemum
and she groused, they’re funeral flowers, mi’ija, flowers of death,
but they’re also my birth month’s flowers, bathed in irony.
I know there are many things I do not know but I enjoy
watching to find out, to see the patterns; a show I watched as a teen
birthed this quote: one is an incident, two is a coincidence, three
is a pattern
and I wondered what unit of measurement they used;
one year, two years, and we don’t get better, we simply become
more secured; I wondered if those spearmint leaves were the only
things keeping me happy, keeping me curious.

My mother says: blame him, he wasn’t what he was meant to be.
One sister says, blame her, she should have been watching,
she should have been there—always looking for someone to blame.
I sat on the floor with my father to my right and my mother to my left,
laying across the couch, and I told them my ugly truth: You were not perfect
people, not perfect parents, but you tried and although I may
not know everything, just know that I get it. I understand;
like all those books I read, all those texts I hid behind, I learned
to read between the lines, and this may be the only gift I can give,
sitting in the fading moonlight, spearmint and honey trapped in my chest,
shriveled amaranths between us, immortal until they aren’t:
I understand, now, the difference between the things that happen
to us, and the things that happen because of us. I start a count:
one is an incident, two is a coincidence, and three—

E-nun-ci-ate

poetry by Maritza Mora

E-nun-ci-ate

I started speaking Spanglish as my first language;
what I couldn’t say in Spanish, I filled in with English
and vice-versa. I could say my prayers in both languages
but knew my hymns in only Spanish. When people requested
my name and repeatedly asked what? What? What? I rewrote
the Spanish cadence into a dull English lilt—

A student in my sociology class years ago tried to negate
my heritage over my inflection, for saying my name
like a white person; they couldn’t understand the syllables
became flaccid over time; I tired of the constant linguistic
breakdown; tired of cringing at the way their tongues and teeth refused
the voiceless alveolar affricate in the middle of my name; I stopped
caring if they said it right or wrong—

I started working and my field trainer said I should consider
using a different name; none of the six homes we visited
for the day said my name right; not one, but they had tried and got as far
as adapting an unvoiced /s/ in lieu of my gritty center and I ran out of fight
over this particular cause years and years ago, somewhere along all the
can you say that again, but slower?-‘s; he says something a little easier
to say, maybe a little less foreign

On a bed with a frustrated scar across her lower abdomen, pain
thrumming through her, my mother tells her bedside nurse what she
wants me named; she says my name as I cry against her breast,
and even then it sounds like a benediction; together our voices weave
into a new psalm. It goes like this: Dios te salve, María; llena eres de gracia:
El Seńor es contigo. Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres | Hail Mary, full
of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women

I weep hallowed tears, whisper it to myself to feel the history,
the care in each sound; I do not want to be something soft
for others’ lips, do not want to change into something palatable;
I am a scrape on their tongue, a fumble between their teeth
and they will remember me with each stutter; think of me
with the boisterous, tumultuous wind, and the crashing of the sea,
and the grinding of the earth, like another prayer, another whisper
of something que no entienden | they do not understand  | niegan
a aprender | they refuse to learn| Now say it with me, as I refuse,
now and henceforth, to repeat myself | Asi es como se dice—

contributor_photo_maritzamora.jpg

Maritza Mora

Maritza Mora hails from East Los Angeles. She works as a translation editor for Cubanabooks Press, a bilingual press focused on female Cuban authors. She recently completed translation editing for the bilingual short-story collection “Universo Y La Lista / Universe and the List” by Laidi Fernández de Juan. She has also recently published poetry in Third Point Press's Issue 11.