- for Thomas Anthony Miranda
My grandfather never spoke Spanish.
I dont talk like a Mexican, he'd say,
nor dress like one neither!
Every day he wore clean chinos
and a fresh-pressed shirt to work
at the construction site, and for a night
on the town, his silky suit and tie.
In black and white photos, he poses -
solemn, dark, proud of his good taste.
But sometimes my grandfather disappeared,
was absent for days. His crisp shirts hung
neatly in a closet, his suit limp in its bag
from the cleaners. Gone to the hills,
people said quietly, Gone dancing.
Nobody remembers where, now. Some Rancheria
that's vanished, some place so remote
only Indians wanted it. But my grandfather,
he knew. He knew when to go, how to get there.
Drove away at night, not a word to his wife,
his sons. Didn't take his good clothes.
Didn't tell where he'd been when he finally
came home. Still, word got around.
They said he was the best dancer, even
made his own regalia, wore feathers, shells,
grass. Girls fell for him, they said,
admired his legs corded with muscle, capable
of keeping step for days. Maybe that's why
he never took his boys with him. Maybe
that's why in the family album there's only
the kind of clothes all the dandies wore.
When my grandfather died, fifty years later,
his sons gave away closets full
of carefully creased slacks, clean shirts,
outdated suits. They didn't find
feathers, or shells, not a wisp of tule.
There's only this story, and my own
smooth legs, bare with desire to step and slide
certain times of the year, certain nights.