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Isabel Quintero-Flores << "Martha" << "Mi Tía La Bruja"

September 15, 2010


was my moms friend.

She was a big woman.

A Native American

who played mistress.

She babysat for her lover’s wife,

and he was a stick

skeletal framed man;

left over from the hippie


and they

were free love all the time.

Maybe it was love at first sight.

Or maybe the sex was good.

Either way

it was forever until death

parted them.

She patched him up,

donated a piece of herself

and made him whole


And he

bathed her when her hair fell out

and all that was left was brown saggy skin.

He spoon fed

her last meals.

Picked out her last dress,

Not the red one, she felt slutty in that one.

In her coffin

she had never looked thinner;

her round face caved in

after chemo.

Kissing her

he whispered

one last time,

You looked better fat,

and walked back to his wife.


Mi Tía La Bruja

They say my tía Bertha resurrected

Her dead cat “El Negro”

when she was 17.

My tía Mari claims she saw Bertha’s

head go completely


when she was making



She looked down

y ahí estaba, on the floor

foaming at the mouth and her head gone


The priest, as was expected, was scared

and ran out.

Days later my grandmother convinced

it was a seizure, tried to put all rumors to rest,

“No era el Diablo, it was a seizure.”

It was

her daughter what could they expect?

Tia Bertha bought

books on hypnotism,

buried family

portraits in potted plants,

tied el lazo de matrimonio de mis abuelitos, with

black ribbon and buried it in the old outdoor kitchen;

tu sabes, that kitchen with the black walls

like shiny shoe polish from the wooden stove.

When they found my grandparents marriage lasso tied in black,

it the last straw. The pueblo got wind

of Bertha the Demon Possessed Wonder

and her wicked doings.

She would walk in the street,

and be sprinkled with holy water,

(anyway, that’s what my tía Mari says)

She was 23 and turning old maid

(in her time)

but men were afraid,

fear of being coerced by means of brujeria

into marriage or worst love stopped them from talking to poor old Bertha.

She became bitter

and less social.

She spent evenings in a church

burning candles to the Virgen,

putting San Antonio de cabeza,

spying on married men.

Tia Bertha reached a low point.

But un día

She met a man from out of state,

big lips and long hair,

She bewitched him into marriage (so her husband says).

“I didn’t know what I was doing!” he claims.

But you can’t blame stupidity on magic.

He’s constantly on the look out for mysterious powders

sacrificed cats or any indication of brujeria.

So far,

there has been no evidence and

except for that birria she turned into maggots one New Year’s Eve

I haven’t seen anything.

(c) 2010 Isabel Quintero-Flores

Isabel Quintero-Flores is a graduate student at California State University, San Bernardino in the M.A in English Composition program. She currently works in an elementary school library where she tries to sneak writing in as much as she can. She writes mostly about la familia, historia, the everyday and the ordinary. Isabel currently lives in the Inland Empire with her husband in the back of her mom’s house.

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