What Haunts Us

In the villages of my grandmother, they warn you
of the child who beckons
you to follow them deep into the forest,
offers a heavy loaf of bread.
You will choke on the stone in your throat
and die hungry
like the little child.

In my hometown, they warn you
of the woman in white who wails
for her children along the arroyos,
the ones she drowned by her own hand.
La Llorona will pull at you to follow her.
Maybe this time you will not die
like all the other ones did.

In this quiet room, in this exchange,
you warn me not to walk that path.
I have no right
to drag you back to where our parents have never left,
that place where all things stay lodged
in the throat, emerge downstream
years later when it’s far too late.

I think you’re right; let’s turn around.
I’d like to go back and try again.