Beneath The Stairs

Featured Artwork: Adrian Delgado


We used to rent out the basement in my house.

There, through the golden columns and bronze pyramids of despair and dreams

they strode in.

The pearl painted chippings of lands that once were laid

at their feet.

Underneath their soles were eternities of ancestors waiting

for their return. They carried their feasts in the ten-dollar 7-11 lunch boxes

they bought with their first paycheck.

Their robes and armor; their skin and tools.

Their songs and dances; their language and laughter.

Their power and strength; themselves.

Their names and tongues; theirs.

He strode in with crackled hands and muddy boots that smelled

of his daughter’s college tuition.

She waltzed in with hair clippings on her gown and hairdryer wires wrapped around her wrist like bangled bronze bracelets.

He breezed in with the buckets of red roses floating onto the broken floor fit

for the entrance of his goddess.

She entered past the columns and pyramids last, still cleaning up the mess that was left behind; still saturated in the expensive fragrances of Fabuloso — the purple one, of course.

Carlos, Selena,

Humberto, Ester,

Robel, Frederico,

Maria, Emelda,

Amelia, Belter,

Eduardo, Juan,

Bernarda, Pablo,

Hugo, Rosa,

Dominga, Lourdes,

Eduvijes, Ignacio,

….mamá, papá,

… tia, tio,

prima, primo


There, through the bronzed columns of a two-story pyramid in the middle of the ever-reminiscent city, they entered retiring to their thrones.

Washing away the words they did not understand (today)

                                                the pain on the bottoms of their feet

                                                                                    the ache in their backs

                                                                                                the scars on their hearts

                                                                                                            and the masks of the day.

I would watch them enter every day at dinner time.

            Descending past the tacky walls and fractured floors.

                        Amazed at the gods and goddesses that served me.

Briseyda Barrientos-Ariza

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