Juan G.

by Jessica Mehta

For a year he cut the lawn, and I never
knew his last name. I had to ask

the neighbor in the yellow
house after he vanished, her roses
dormant witnesses in the dark. When I’d tried
in terrible Spanish to explain where to plant the lavender,
my macete stumbled out machete
and he’d laughed behind black
cheap glasses, said, Police, bad,
they don’t like it. Words fall out
clumsy, twisted, and his surname—
we only cared when he’d gone. Then,

it was knocks on doors, furtive
asks in the night. For a week I watched
the online detainee locator site,
made calls that never came back.
The neighbor patrolled his church, carried
back stories of an avocado orchard
outside Tancitaro, unravelling
acres of drug cartels with fuerte-slick lips
where his father-in-law was murdered
last month. We don’t know to hope

that ICE ripened him out or if he turned scared
and went south. Children hunkered
the cab with grass clippings, his wife
watching the exit signs fall
to one. Who knows? the neighbor
said, her white teeth shining. Maybe one day
he’ll show up with a truck of avocados

and his cataracts scraped clean.

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet and novelist. She’s the author of six collections of poetry including the forthcoming Savagery, the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded numerous poet-in-residencies posts, including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the recipient of a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund in Poetry. She is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at www.jessicatynermehta.com.

Photo by: Ana Prundaru