Before my mother’s wedding starts,
she’s on cathedral steps,
cigarette between her teeth as guests arrive
smiling and nodding as she holds the door open.
Her mother is frantic hands,
reaching under handshakes and hello-kisses to
smooth dress wrinkles because white
doesn’t give you anything to hide behind.
All hot breath as she hmphs:
don’t let him out of your sight;
even a good man fucks
when you’re not looking.
And in my mother’s eyes:
who never learned to hug
without checking over the shoulder.
And in her mother’s eyes:
a futuro already pisado,
a prophecy of her daughter, too
washing collars with red lipstick residue:
an obligation she’ll inherit like a house chore.
There’s no response.
Only a cigarette drag
as my mother leans
against the cathedral wall.
—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.