Henry Mills

Suitcases in the car, I found abuelo
knelt by his bed,
smelling of guaro, praying
for his late son, Roberto,
Homecoming Queen,
who paraded in a pink dress
even my tia (cross-herself)-admitted,
looked fabulous.
How he waved from the back of a pick-up
to the pueblo, gawking from the curb.

Roberto, wisp from a just finished wick
(a poetic way of saying,
he drowned slowly.
My mom said from AIDS
but never mentioned
pulling me abruptly from his arms,
where he receded into the hospital bed.

I share this, not to condemn her, nor abuelo,
but to create a space
where I can be held by my tio a little longer.

Maybe drunk prayer, and midnight poetry,
grant temporary permission
to believe you’re heard,
that you can reach into the lightless room,
pick a carnation
and put it behind the ear of the man
you wish you loved more.)


Henry Mills was born in DC to a Salvadoran mother and a Jewish-American father. His work has appeared in Origins Journal, The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States, and Epiphany Magazine. He received an MFA in poetry from New York University.