Tuesday, October 26, 2021

the last book I ever read (The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, excerpt seven)

from The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio:

When we speak on the phone a few weeks before my first visit, Salome cries, puts her hand on the mouthpiece to try to block the sound of it, and tells me she wants to show me the notebook her dead husband kept during his last weeks alive to keep track of his treatments. After we hang up, I text her U.S. Census data showing that children of immigrants have higher rates of college and postgraduate education graduation than other groups, and she says my texts make her feel good. She has four children, one of whom has DACA. I am a one-trick pony, unable to comfort with anything other than grades.

Salome is tall, with straight dark-brown hair and the intense feminine air I associate with perfumed talcum powder. She has been in the United States for seventeen years, working mostly as a housekeeper for hotels and apartments. She had four pugs: fourteen-year-old Tobin and her three puppies, Megan, Alex, and Ashlyn, named for members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. “I like to lie down on the couch and let them climb all over me,” she says. She sleeps curled on her side with Tobin at her chest, Megan on the backs of her knees, and Alex on her back. Ashlyn has been staying with her daughter.

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