los guantes blancos
When my papí was fourteen fifteen sixteen,
a young age when bones break knockout-style,
he bound his hands with white wraps,
beads of sweat forming a gauzed rosary,
& stepped into the ring to fight,
his boy-body rippling into man.
My papí taught me how to box
in our unfinished basement when I was twenty-one,
my hands paper doves against the punching bag,
blood raining down matted feathers
from exposed wood chips piercing through the leather,
his laughter reminding me of my fragility.
But now my papí’s stomach is bloated
like an anchored speed bag,
intestines & organs so rank with water
sweat pelts his skin like dew
as he pulls against his restraints with a force
so strong he almost exorcisms himself,
white skeleton matching white gloves.
When I beg the nurses to tighten his restraints,
they remind me that I don’t want to hurt him further,
my papí’s nails ripping through the gloves
& reaching for the port in his neck –– pop ––
like an uppercut, quick & fast.
The scent of fresh blood drags the nurses
in like sharks, their jaws instructing me
to watch him closely, my papí rumbling the hospital bed
like feet on bleachers desperate for a gambling payout.
He loses so much of himself I’m sent home
to wipe away red from my shoes, hands, & face,
the chained punching bag stock still in our basement
a sedated animal awaiting slaughter.
Sonya Lara is a biracial Mexican American writer. She received her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MFA in Poetry from Virginia Tech. Currently, she is the Poetry Editor for Minerva Rising and an Editor-at-Large for Cleaver Magazine. Previously, she was the Managing Editor for The New River, the Managing Editor of the minnesota review, and an Associate Fiction Editor for The Madison Review. Additionally, she has served as a juror for contests, such as the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She was accepted for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, the Hambidge Creative Residency Program, the Peter Bullough Foundation Residency, and the Blue Mountain Center Residency, and was shortlisted for The Eavan Boland Emerging Poet Award and runner-up in Shenandoah’s Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets. Her work appeared or is forthcoming in The Pinch, X-R-A-Y Lit, Shenandoah, AGNI, The Los Angeles Review, The Acentos Review, and elsewhere. For more information, visit sonyalara.com.