4 Poems by Angelica Julia Davila
a brief hidden history lesson
Tell me of a story where
the colonizers never stepped foot
in the Americas.
Could’ve? Should’ve? Would’ve?
It’s pure spec-u-la-tion.
Che Guevara called it
“nostalgia”, but I think
“mourning” is much more
what it feels like
to stand and gaze at the
archeological site called: Machu Picchu.
“¿Como es posible que sienta nostalgia por un mundo que no conocí?”
But I ask,
“How can I feel such mourning for a world I never knew?”
They hadn’t been finished, yet.
But, the colonizers had
squandered their progress
without stepping one foot
in the hidden city.
With time, the earth then whisper-ed
I’ll keep you safe. You’ll be my best-kept secret. And,
the trees sprouted around it and,
the fog consumed its sight, until
Hiram Bingham! He wasn’t the first one there,
but he’s the one who
“discovered”, “recovered”, “whatever-ed” the
lost city. Never mind the three families who
lived at Machu Picchu prior. Hiram Bingham!
He promised he’d only borrow the artifacts for a year,
which seemed very honest.
Our guia told us, though, that those artifacts
never returned to Peru. “Curated”, “trapped”, “whatever-ed”
in foreign museums.
Both the colonized
and the colonizer.
To contemplate one’s existence
as only being in existence
because a whole people
conquered another whole people is
My soul somewhere
cries, “Mis hijos! Mis hijos!”
But my ancestors remain silent,
competing with the illusion of having un hijo mejor que una hija
Driving down the block I see the men:
cut the grass, clean the gutters, wash the cars. I see the men with their garage doors wide open,
because machismo doesn’t count unless it has an audience.
Young men, y viejos.
Then there’s me:
cutting the grass, cleaning the gutters, washing the car.
My garage door wide open, as I yell to myself ________.
My father, quien, donde?
My mother’s brothers always taught me to be the son that should’ve been because soy lo único que tiene mi mama.
My mother once thought I was a rebellious teenager, for sneaking a boy over at night. To be fair, she must have seen me as a bitch in heat
when I first dared asked to have a boyfriend before ever even considering sneaking a boy over.
It’s much too hard to have a daughter, or so I’m told. My mother told me too many times, she’d wish I’d ‘ve been a boy because that would have been easier on her.
I guess a boy can’t spread his legs wide open, or rather No puede tirar la aspirina.
I’ve always competed with the son that could’ve been, while still:
cutting the grass, cleaning the gutters, washing the car
and getting told to go get another cerveza for the men in my family.
And still I begged malditos for their love.
Young men, y viejos.
In the beginning there was
a great migration. Nomadic
hunters on a transcontinental
And the desert was without form, and void;
so they settled in southern Texas & northern
Mexico, what is now known as Coahuila became
home to the Huauchichiles, the Coahuiletcos, the Tobosos, the Irritilas, and the Rayados.
And gods blessed them, saying, be fruitful, and multiply. Prosperous, they became.
Unknowing how the tide of new blood would reach further up north,
toward them, toward them, hacia ellos.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion,”
said the Spaniards when they reached el Norte.
And on the seventh day, ninety percent of the
Huauchichiles, the Coahuiletcos, the Tobosos, the Irritilas, and the Rayados
A mass extinction of plague after plague.
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth
that never saw another day.
And the field needed
hands. The Spaniards
facilitated a small migration de Central Mexico.
They brought the Tlaxaltecs to repopulate
History became very sloppy and not as simple as our pride likes to make it
And the Spaniards said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.
They shall be called Mestizo, because they were taken out of nosotros and
ellos, se acuerdan de ellos?”
“And they shall be one flesh,” they finished.
A desert serpent slithered past, talking about
blood, disease, and rape
before getting stepped on.
Angelica Julia Davila is a writer and comedian in Chicago. Her essays can be found at The Nasiona and her poetry in The Sink Review and Wolf Jaw Magazine. In her spare time, Angelica likes to tweet at Wendy's to complain about how their BBQ sauce tastes differently than it did before.