El Micro

Y al ver que inútilmente te envío mis palabras

llorando mi guitarra se deja oír su voz.

The day his brown eyes meet her brown eyes,

the guitar hustler sings an off-key song of poverty

as passengers swing on and off el micro,


the small green busses of Lima.

His jutting head stock sways with the melody,

serenading eyes that have learned to take no notice.

His brown eyes have learned to take no notice

as vendors shoulder their way through the jungle of limbs,

shouting tamarindo-chicha-choclo,

competing with him for spare change.

The arms, legs, and heads crammed in el micro

sway as the small green bus swerves around missing manhole covers:

the putrid mist from open sewer lids wrinkles noses.

Amid the overcrowding, the hustlers, the vendors

her brown eyes have learned to take no notice,

so, on the way home from the hospital where she is a secretary,

when the sweet garbage stench washes in and

mixes with the body odor of the guitar hustler

shoving a jingling cup into her chest,

she looks over his black hair as the city lights blur past.

Her forehead glistens with humidity; droplets roll down her spine.

Her hair frizzes like blonde cotton candy.

Compressed in the aisle,

her sweaty knuckles brace her to the back of a seat,

and as the guitar hustler moves on, her stare slips,

and her brown eyes meet his brown eyes.

He’s seen her get on. He’s been waiting to say something,

thinking of the right words as he sings along

She’s the only blonde in a sea of brown,

and in the jumble of legs and sweaty heads and jutting


his brown eyes meet her brown eyes.

She responds by pushing her way through the people

to exit el micro,

but there’s something about her worth

following. He shoulders past the tamarindo


catches up to her on the street

grasps for her fingertips, and their eyes meet.

The kiosk sells single cigarettes, and she doesn’t even

smoke, but there’s something about him worth smoking


She coughs, cough-coughs.

Her brown eyes meet his brown eyes, and the

question marks exhaled from her lungs

hanging in the air between them

become ellipses,

which he flirts with:

Cansado de llamarte, con mi alma destrozada

comprendo que no vienes porque no quiere Dios,

y al ver que inútilmente te envío mis palabras

llorando mi guitarra se deja oír su voz…

—Penelope M. Alegria '24's column, "Hers," is a series of poems that retell familial stories through a matriarchal lens, exploring the role of women through space and time.