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definitions & notes only words
  1. prophecy
    a prediction uttered under divine inspiration
    They left Aztlán to fulfill their prophecy:
    to build a great city
    in the navel of the universe
    a small mound in the middle of a lake
    where they saw an eagle devour a serpent on a cactus.
  2. navel
    the center point or middle of something
    They left Aztlán to fulfill their prophecy:
    to build a great city
    in the navel of the universe
    a small mound in the middle of a lake
    where they saw an eagle devour a serpent on a cactus.
  3. duplex
    a house with two units sharing a common wall
    Papi and I land
    on the front yarda
    of our duplex
    each day.
  4. croon
    sing softly
    we lived in Aztlán
    among the cranes
    and danced
    and crooned like trumpets
  5. gallery
    a room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited
    I watch him hang
    my crane poem
    on what Mami calls
    my “laundry line gallery
    she strung up across
    the kitchen window
  6. prune
    cultivate, tend, and cut back the growth of
    pruned trees
    ripe with fruit
    perfect branches
    the best for climbing
  7. altar
    a raised structure on which sacrifices to a god are made
    Then, Mami said,
    Quiero rosas for my altar, por favor.
  8. ceramic
    relating to or made from clay baked at a high temperature
    As I stare at Mami’s altar
    I notice each time, we are
    the brown of this Virgen
    the morena of her
    painted ceramic skin.
  9. intonation
    rise and fall of the voice pitch
    Words like:
    intonation or fortune
    energy or angle
    anguish or freedom
    myth or alchemy
    are the almost spells
    I spell
    with ink.
  10. anguish
    extreme distress of body or mind
    Words like:
    intonation or fortune
    energy or angle
    anguish or freedom
    myth or alchemy
    are the almost spells
    I spell
    with ink.
  11. alchemy
    a pseudoscientific forerunner of chemistry in medieval times
    Words like:
    intonation or fortune
    energy or angle
    anguish or freedom
    myth or alchemy
    are the almost spells
    I spell
    with ink.
  12. ritual
    of or relating to or employed in social ceremonies
    From my cushy bed
    Saturday-morning sounds
    are a blast of rancheras
    swooshing into our house
    leftover music from
    Omar’s ritual car wash
  13. sappy
    overly or insincerely emotional
    I bury my face
    into Mami's squishy belly
    feeling my mouth stretch
    into the sappiest jelly grin
    as I bounce
    along to their
    two-step ranchera strides.
  14. stride
    a step in walking or running
    I bury my face
    into Mami's squishy belly
    feeling my mouth stretch
    into the sappiest jelly grin
    as I bounce
    along to their
    two-step ranchera strides.
  15. administration
    the group of people who manage or direct an institution
    This administration is out to get us.
  16. sanctuary
    a shelter from danger or hardship
    Papi clears his throat and
    almost whispers,
    A “ sanctuary” is a place where cranes can't get caught.
  17. tutorial
    a session of intensive instruction
    Tina shows me her Gram page
    with all the facial tutorials
    she likes and uses me
    to test them out.
  18. slather
    spread thickly
    Then we take pictures and videos of our
    slathered green avocado faces
    and cucumber eyes
  19. gruff
    blunt and unfriendly or stern
    But right now our happiness
    is big and wide because she looks like Belle
    dancing a waltz with gruff Tío Juan
    in her Beauty and the Beast backyard ballroom.
  20. canopy
    a covering (usually of cloth) that shelters an area
    Paper flowers all around the tall rented canopy
    yellow ribbons woven into the chain-link fence.
  21. cartel
    a consortium formed to limit commercial competition
    " Cartel,” a cardboard sign
    to announce something
    as in "for sale”
    or "car wash here.”
    But also,
    a group of men...
  22. petition
    request formally and in writing
    We were lucky Tío Juan
    petitioned for us
    to be here before we knew
    of cartels.
  23. mangle
    destroy or injure severely
    When I ask Papi
    if the men in cartels
    are cranes like us
    he says,
    It's impossible, Betita
    because their souls
    are so mangled
    they have forgotten
    how to be birds.
  24. secure
    cause to be firmly attached
    I take scissors and cut out a square
    from his baby-blue pillowcase
    tuck the cloth into my blouse
    and secure it with a safety pin
    near my heart.
  25. asylum
    a shelter from danger or hardship
    I don’t understand
    so many words.
    “Petition,” “failed to appear,” “political asylum,” “deportation”
    only that Papi will be
    put on a plane and flown
    to Mexico.
  26. deportation
    the expulsion of a non-citizen from a country
    I don’t understand
    so many words.
    “Petition,” “failed to appear,” “political asylum,” “ deportation
    only that Papi will be
    put on a plane and flown
    to Mexico.
  27. immigration
    movement of people into a country or area
    It turns out ICE stands for
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  28. customs
    the government agency that oversees and collects duties on imported goods
    It turns out ICE stands for
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  29. enforcement
    ensuring observance of or obedience to
    It turns out ICE stands for
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  30. meditate
    think intently and at length, as for spiritual purposes
    I draw a huge brown nest
    with big eyes and long eyelashes
    like Mami’s
    holding a tiny egg
    and me sitting
    crisscross applesauce
    beside it
    like I’m meditating
  31. midwife
    a woman skilled in aiding the delivery of babies
    On a Saturday morning without Papi
    Mami and I walk through
    our vecindad to catch the bus
    to the community clinic
    for her checkup
    with Sandra, the nurse midwife.
  32. accordion
    a portable box-shaped free-reed instrument
    Tío Juan's, Tía Raquel’s,
    Tina’s, and Mami’s heads
    bounce to accordions and horns.
  33. freeway
    a broad highway designed for high-speed traffic
    The freeway is crowded with cars
    and too many trucks traveling
  34. rig
    a truck consisting of a tractor and trailer together
    I point to the big rigs we are sandwiched between.
  35. rosary
    a series of prayers counted using a string of beads
    She takes my hand and wraps
    a string of rosary beads around it.
Created on January 7, 2021 (updated January 12, 2021)

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