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Pedro Sanches for BuzzFeed News

Poem: "Buen Esqueleto" By Natalie Scenters-Zapico

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Life is short, and I tell this to mis hijas.

Life is short, & I show them how to talk

to police without opening the door, how

to leave the social security number blank

on the exam, I tell this to mis hijas.

This world tells them I hate you every day

& I don’t keep this from mis hijas

because of the bus driver who kicks them

to the street for fare evasion. Because I love

mis hijas, I keep them from men who’d knock

their heads together just to hear the chime.

Life is short & the world is terrible. I know

no kind strangers in this country who aren’t

sisters a desert away, & I don’t keep this

from mis hijas. It’s not my job to sell

them the world, but to keep them safe

in case I get deported. Our first

landlord said with a bucket of bleach

the mold would come right off. He shook

mis hijas, said they had good bones

for hard work. Mi’jas, could we make this place

beautiful? I tried to make this place beautiful.

—After “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing), which won the PEN American/Joyce Osterweil Award and the GLCA Award, as well as the forthcoming Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press). Her most recent poems are forthcoming or can be found in POETRY, Boston Review, and Tin House. Starting in Fall 2017, she will be teaching at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.