Every few years Tia Chucha would visit the family
in a tornado of song and open us up
as if we were an overripe avocado.
She was a dumpy, black-haired
creature of upheaval who often came unannounced
with a bag of presents, including homemade
perfumes and colognes that smelled something like
rotting fish on a hot day at the tuna cannery.
They said she was crazy. Oh sure, she once ran out naked
to catch the postman with a letter that didn't belong to us.
I mean, she had this annoying habit of boarding city buses
and singing at the top of her voice—one bus driver
even refused to go on until she got off.
To me, she was the wisp of the wind's freedom,
a music-maker who once tried to teach me guitar
but ended up singing and singing,
me listening, and her singing
until I put the instrument down
and watched the clock click the lesson time away.
I didn't learn guitar, but I learned something
about her craving for the new, the unbroken,
so she could break it. Periodically she banished herself
from the family—and was the better for it.
I secretly admired Tia Chucha.
She was always quick with a story,
another "Pepito" joke or a hand-written lyric
that she would produce regardless of the occasion.
She was a despot of desire,
uncontainable as a splash of water
on a varnished table.
I wanted to remove the layers
of unnatural seeing,
the way Tia Chucha beheld
the world, with first eyes,
like an infant who can discern
the elixir within milk.
I wanted to be one of the prizes
she stuffed into her rumpled bag.