Sebastián Hasani Páramo
We always wanted family. Didn’t Father beg
for us to act like one. He yelled at us to make
plans. Don’t take your sweet time. Don’t get thick
with me. Didn’t he mean for his efforts to yield
better blood than before. Richer than before.
We are rich with family. He says we’re fine. We’re fine.
Yet his body tells me it’s tired. Tired of the molasses
of burden. Not sweet anymore, it burns. My Mother’s
burden was once slow too. In Celaya, city of candied milk,
she loved cajeta. How it simmered good & overnight.
A cosmetology graduate, I once misunderstood her
as someone who studied the stars & it ended up
true anyway. She dressed & cut our hair for family
portraits. The star of Texas & cloud played backdrop.
Her baby’s first hair, sweetened inside a plastic bag, a drawer.
Something to burn the past in our hands when we hold it,
simmering like birthday candles. Remember, mama y papa:
Pastel de tres leches. Cake of three milks.
We put frosting on everyone’s nose. Remember, Brother?
Why we don’t gather to make plans. Why it takes so long
to meet once a year around a table—why not feast & drink
about the dreams we saw as boys, climbing our city’s roof—
when we didn’t know how long fireworks lasted because
we lay there under July for what seemed like hours &
we joined the family & ate fajitas & drank soda & ate cake
& we even felt like a family, rich & without burden.
Sebastián Hasani Páramo reads “Cajeta”
Sebastián Hasani Páramo is a CantoMundo Fellow and a former Dobie Paisano Fellow. His work has appeared in New England Review, 32 Poems, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of The Boiler and Poetry Editor for Deep Vellum. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.