Prickly Pear & Fisticuffs

Ada Limón

My older brother says he doesn’t consider himself Latino anymore and I understand what he means, but I stare at the weird fruit in my hand and wonder what it is to lose a spiny layer. He’s explaining how white and lower-middle class we grew up and how we don’t know anything about any culture except maybe Northern California culture, which means we get stoned more often and frown on super stores. I want to do whatever he says. I want to be something entirely without words. I want to be without tongue or temper. Two days ago in Tennessee someone said, Stop it, Ada’s Mexican. And I didn’t know what they were talking about until one of them said, At least I didn’t say, Wetback. And everyone laughed. Honestly, another drink and I could have hit someone. Started the night’s final fight. And I don’t care what he says. My brother would have gone down swinging and fought off every redneck whitey in the room.

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