This fridge magnet was fashioned from my cat Juicy’s dreadlock.  She’s a Rastafarian.

For The Jim Crow Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Where My Cousin Esteban Was Forbidden To Wait Tables Because He Wears Dreadlocks

by Martin Espada

I have noticed that the hostess in peasant dress,

the wait staff and the boss

share the complexion of a flour tortilla.

I have spooked the servers at my table

by trilling the word burrito.

I am aware of your T-shirt solidarity

with the refugees of the Americas,

since they steam in your kitchen.

I know my cousin Esteban the sculptor

rolled tortillas in your kitchen with the fingertips

of ancestral Puerto Rican cigarmakers.

I understand he wanted to be a waiter,

but you proclaimed his black dreadlocks unclean,

so he hissed in Spanish

and his apron collapsed on the floor.

May La Migra handcuff the wait staff

as suspected illegal aliens from Canada;

may a hundred mice dive from the oven l

ike diminutive leaping dolphins

during your Board of Health inspection;

may the kitchen workers strike, sitting

with folded hands as enchiladas blacken

and twisters of smoke panic the customers;

may a Zapatista squadron commandeer the refrigerator,

liberating a pillar of tortillas at gunpoint;

may you hallucinate dreadlocks

braided in thick vines around your ankles;

and may the Aztec gods pinned like butterflies

to the menu wait for you in the parking lot

at midnight, demanding that you spell their names.

– Martin Espada

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