Tonight a Former Student of Mine Smokes Cigs with Tim O'Brien and I Read to Henry Cisneros

by Natalia Trevino

She was in my comp class Fall 2001 and then she took a few more. Dropped out. Ran an ambulance company. Went to Australia with me to visit my then beloved across the ocean boyfriend. She was an amazing writer. We bought her a tiara on her 19th birthday. For my son, who was four at the time, she wore it. I smiled with my teeth. Had it all to be a writer, a several hundred page memoir already written at 18, the material to make Breaking Bad or House of Cards whimper jealously at their poor little plots. She had the skill, the tough and broken heart.  She went back to school after a long time, after a long struggle away from those healthy little goody goody things I wanted for her, a degree, a safe place to stay the night, a little less of this kind of thing and that kind of thing that kept me worried, up at night, writing emails to her about her future. She finally did it, came back to school, finished an undergrad degree quickly, got an MFA in a flash, is teaching in Florida, kicking ass. Writing, hanging out with Alan Shapiro, Tim O'Brien, Denise Duhamel. She is a rock star. She is going to kill it. She is on her way. She just wants to get more material I think, pay her bills while teaching college kids about kicking ass with their writing. So Proud. So damn proud of this kiddo. She's no child I can claim, no little sister I can cuddle. But we are both daughters of poet Wendy Barker. Wendy cracked her open much more than I ever did. I introduced them though, told Wendy, "this is your granddaughter." Yes, that's a trope! And Wendy took her in, way way way in. 

Tonight was Mega-Corazon 2016-- I read for about twenty minutes. Some new poems, some old poems, and some Lavando La Dirty Laundry poems, all about mothers, my grandmothers, giving birth, going to Mexico as a kid. Mom and Stew came along to give me support. I wore heels this time. Then I was star-struck. Who is in the small audience but Henry Cisneros, the Mayor of San Antonio during most of my life! Front row. Turns out he is brother to George Cisneros the organizer of Urban 15's growing live-streaming event, the biggest in the world, I think, Mega Corazon, 15-20 poets, all reading twenty minutes, all filmed, all broadcast on the net for nine hours straight, George, the nicest host, musician and San Antonio arts supporter you can meet. He makes a good mole too, competed in the Mole Cook Off earlier this year. Henry was there with their mom and his wife, Mary Alice. Gulp, breathe, and yes, read poetry to them, San Antonio's Royal Family, for twenty minutes. Yes, and to good friends in the audience too,  my mom (heart), my hubby videotaping me (heart heart), Anthony the Poet backstage, telling me he might be feeling sick, Mariana Aitches, watching, supporting, and glistening in her beauty, ready to read, Andrea Vocab Sanderson, who just blows me away with her beautiful voice and prolific creations. Me talking about birth, a beheaded goddess who became la Virgen, and my grandmother's adoption story. It's been a big day, my mega-heart, San Antonio's Mega- Corazon in tow. Grateful.

Dad, I hope you were watching too. This is the first time I did it with you not watching live or streaming it on your computer. Can you read what I write too? Can you see through the film of these life-death walls that have us apart right now? Can you e-stream from heaven?