The Grocery Store Across the Tex-Mex Border (Poem No.3)

The store was across
from the Luis Pasteur kindergarten
on Río Lena street,
where federal employees and teachers
live.

For ten years, my mother opened that store at 8:30 am
and closed at 3:00 pm
—to make lunch for my sister and me—
reopened at 6:00 pm and finally closed at 10:30 pm.
Only on Sundays did she close early so we could go shopping in El Paso,
to refill the stock of the store.
Sometimes we waited over an hour to cross the bridge,
at the whim of US immigration officials,
my mother with infinite patience.
Sometimes now
I think her patience was born out of the need for it;
the products below the border can be 50% more expensive
than in the US, because of Mexico’s import taxes.
We changed the money we earned in Ciudad Juarez to U.S. dollars
to buy the same products we produce in Juarez
stuck with an American brand, CONASUPO and Guma.

The store was called Mini Súper Las Fresas
(Strawberries Mini Mart),
in memory of a man from Uruapán, Michoacán,
who used to carry two baskets heaped with strawberries and cried out
“Fresaaaaaaas,”
to sell them in the streets.
His brown face and curly grey hair came with the baskets
where he put his strawberries.
We used to go to the Molina fruit store to buy smoothies,
and that’s where the idea to start a business dawned on my mother.
The idea to launch this business came
when they went looking for a spot to open
a fruit and vegetable or smoothie stand in the Chamizal Centre.
When my parents went to see the gym next door
to think about what products they might offer,
they listened to the gossip of the gym employees,
who were chatting about the closure of the gym
the next month. So they did not sign the contract
and my mother went to light a candle
to the Virgin of Guadalupe for this important revelation.
We finally found location on the route to Belén,
and passed by a store that stood alone.
When they rented, the customers commented
that the place had bad vibes—
those who had rented previously had divorced,
had broken. And my mother lit another candle
to the Virgin to make everything right, and it was.
There was no turning back turn back,
she would have to work hard.

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3 comentarios en “The Grocery Store Across the Tex-Mex Border (Poem No.3)

  1. Juaritos chingón, Este poema es mágico… tan bello, impresionante. Estas historias nadie las cuenta, sólo tú puedes contarlas, por tu experiencia, vivencias.. me recuerda mucho al libro de historias cortas que te comente* Brownsville*, en honor al pueblecito tejano que está en la frontera con Matamoros, Mexico. Es un libro de Oscar Casares, que ahora es profesor de escritura creativa en UT Austin, no sé si alguna vez lo contactaste por e mail, presentándote y contándole que lo has descubierto y que te inspira a seguir adelante en tus sueños. Son historias de su pueblo, muchas se las contaba su tío peluquero.. yo lo conocí hace muchos años, cuando presentó su libro en Austin y lo entrevisté. Una observación.. la espera del puente suele ser más de una hora, sobre todo los fines de semana o en las horas punta… yo lo cambiaría por de entre dos y tres horas… Sigue adelante!!! Eres el más chingón! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownsville:_Stories

    On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 8:26 AM, “Mi Juaritos (beta) del poeta

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