Party for Flor Pequeña
By Lauren Culley
Near the door to the house, the men are standing beside a long table of food dipping their hands into bowls. The table is filled with Mexican dishes of the Pacific—skinned shrimp, salmon cooked on cedar planks, baked grouper wrapped in cornhusks and presented with Cascabel chilies. One of the mothers has sprinkled the tablecloth with confetti and small chocolate coins that are losing their shape in the sun. The men lean against the house with their elbows resting on windowsills. They fan flies away from the food and curse the dogs that stand on hind legs to smell the chicken. One of them looks at me and tips the brim of an imaginary hat. “Goodbye, flor pequeña,” he says. I nod back, “Little flower must go home.” I say.
I am leaving tomorrow after a summer with these families—migrant workers living in the Yakima Valley of Washington. Tomorrow I’ll be, “Up then away!” one of the children says, and throws her arms into the air. The others mimic her and begin flying around the yard. I watch all of my students turn into airplanes in front of me.
be the one that takes you home,” Rachel says. She is my youngest student,
beautiful and quick to cry. “But they need you here,” I tell her. “Maybe
you should fly to the ocean instead. Just for the afternoon.” Her eyes
become wide at the thought of it. “Arriba y lejos! Up and away!
Arriba y lejos!” She shouts.
The mothers laugh as the wife hits him on the arm with her fan, “You are too old for me,” she says.
a dancer,” calls out another. They all laugh and look away, look back
again to see what he will do.
reaches over to take my hand. She brings it to her mouth and kisses
my wrist. “This was a good party for you, yes? This was a good time?
This was a good time.”
Lauren Culley has recently graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in English, Creative Writing. This is her first publication.
by Elaine Briere