January 2008 / Volume Eight / Issue One
Luis Rivas
The Guatemalan Mothers

im skating back from depositing
the store’s weekend cash
(my mom needed the car
so i brought my skateboard to work)
i see a small kid on the corner
i get close to him and
see that he has down syndrome
there’s no one around
no adults, no parents
his hair and eyes are dark brown
but i can’t tell if he’s
white or latino
i ask in english, where’s your mom
he looks behind me, squinting
i turn around – nothing
i turn back to the kid
who’s now running into the street
onto oncoming traffic
he stumbles, falls flat on his face

a car approaches

i run out and pick him up
bring him back to the sidewalk
he’s trying to break free
i look like im molesting
or trying to abduct him
someone shouts that the mom’s
looking for the kid in the alley
i tell the man to watch the kid
until i can get the mom

she’s blonde, talking on the phone
in spanish in an argentinian accent
holding onto a baby

i say in spanish, we found your kid
he almost got hit by a car
o, gracias a dios, she says
her reaction is mild, insincere
she is in no hurry as i lead
the way back to the kid

a crowd of guatemalan mothers
begin to scorn, reprimand the mother

one of the mothers says, the young
man saved your son’s life
exaggerating slightly

the lady says, he’s not my son
i look after him

they threaten to call the police
the lady gets on the phone
with the mother but the mother
doesn’t answer
everyone is sensing something bad
about the lady

the lady grabs the retarded child
by the hand and leads him away
but one of the guatemalan mothers
rushes up and grabs the kid
by the other hand accompanying her
until they reach the mother
holding onto the child’s small arm
tighter than the lady.