La Malinche is my next door neighbor. 
She sometimes snubs her half-lit cherry-tipped cigarettes in
my rose bushes, wild crimson and tangled green thorns spilling
from my yard along the border of her yard and back again.

I don’t mind.  I like the swing of her hair,
her swagger, and when it snows, the way she
walks barefoot in the dusted-over ash-like whiteness

as if she approaches the lip of volcan
a deity sacrificial offering and not just checking
her afternoon mail, as mundane as the rest of us

La Malinche is my next door neighbor
and she left her husband or he left her
who cares, but we’re both glad he’s gone—
conqueror, territorial land-whore, abuser,
whiplash tongue, Eurocentric,
goat bastard.

La Malinche taught me how to cuss, how
to use my spit like the poison it is meant to be—
One fine Sunday I dropped by to have some tea
she walked about her house nude, a glowing stone
nipples like brown saucers, pubic
bone a mossy fern.  She anointed
me with oil of rose and the steam rose
from the slumbering coil of her sleeping hair

Sometimes she looks at me, in this peculiar way
eyes ablaze as two gold discs, two fiery suns
a mantle of stars woven into
stems, cornea, lens and rod.

I do not mind.  I am not afraid. 
I warm myself against the small
bonfires of her mouth.

Everyday that shadow woman braids my hair
her serpent tongue licking the strands
darting in and out the corded knots

La Malinche is my BFF, my road dog,
my homegirl, my ride or die bitch, my Nahuatl
dream, my two-step partner, my grito-howling
moon woman.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
Sometimes she borrows money from me. 
Rent ain’t free, you know, and her baby daddy
don’t come ‘round here no more.

But we prayed to La Virgen Morena Tonantzin
for that small miracle, so there you go.

Eeeoooo!  And that fat baby of hers, grows
rounder every day.  His borderland patas plush,
his mestizo purple-scented lips drooling,
only two chiclet-sized teeth in that whole
head of his.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
So of course, I babysit for her. That’s how
Homegirls do. And that baby is always
hungry, voracious.  I slip him
slivers of dark chocolate, orange rinds
with some of the sticky sweet still attached
to the skin.  We split a sweet tamal and I fashion
for him figurines from the discarded corn husks.

His manos always stained yellow with sweet grass, copal.
The black orbs of his eyes starless but bottomless
A forever Mestizo. The first of his kind.
Pobrecito, all that pressure. And when I give him milk
he laps up with a small pink, forked tongue.

This boy is our angel, original la raza cosmica.

La Malinche is my next door neighbor.
She lives in the painted lady with the pitched pink roof.
She attends CNM Community College part-time and studies Linguistics.
Go figure.

la lengua que es una India desta tierra

She ain’t no victim.  She ain’t no traitor.
She ain’t your Rosetta Stone.

She is the goddess of grass.
Malinalli Malintzin Tenepal, one who speaks
much and with liveliness

A survivor who works part-time at the Dog House,
Off’ve Central, likes to go out dancing
on Fridays, feeds her baby­­­ cinnamon flavored blue corn mush
sometimes dyes her hair blond like those pinche guerras who live in the Heights
and she is my best friend.

She has been alive for 500 years and counting.
She is the oldest young person I know.

She is eternal.  She is infinite.  She is the mother of our siblings.

La Malinche es una reina de las estrellas
La rosa de el volcan

La Malinche is my next door neighbor
la espina la sangre el petalo
The thorn the blood the petal
Dedication: for Mariah B.
Jessica Helen Lopez is the City of ABQ Poet Laureate, Emeritus and an Adjunct Instructor with the UNM Chican@ Studies Department. Author of the Women's Press Zia Award for her first published collection, "Always Messing With Them Boys," (West End Press) and Pushcart Prize nominee, she is a TEDXTALK alum, featured poet for Colores! PBS and is a veteran slam poet on the national circuit.

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