Categories
2018 Poetry

Amanda Galvan Huynh

THE SMALL-TOWN MAN

             Floydada, Texas

The first memory of my abuelo
rests on the lip of a Budweiser.
With a Mexican gameshow

on the T.V. he gave me a sip
and my throat kicked it back up.
His mustache laughed. The sting

like metal left out in a Texas
sun. These summers I spent
with my father’s parents. Days

I’d flint through flea markets,
lose money at the local festivals,
road trip to the nearest town

for groceries, play in unfenced
dirt yards, and find myself
turning their tornado shelter

into a dungeon. Rocks became
goblins. Wood beams set
to cement a new driveway

transformed into an Olympic
Arena for a balance beam
performance—I fell

into terror. Two hands
tore me away. These hands
belonged to my Abuelo

left me on the cracked curb
aware that this little house
on E. Tennessee Street

was his—built by the same
two hands. The were
the same ones that reached

for the tortilla stack at breakfast,
unlocked the gate to his junkyard,
dragged chains across the yard,

changed the channel or turned
the music up on la radio. His hands
drove eighteen-wheelers full

of a season’s harvest, waited
by the curb of the house
for Abuela to bring his lunch

out, the night of his shift. One night
he took us along with those hands
steady under a cotton plump

moon. Him, A small-town man,
he’d say; who didn’t want more
than the work he could bear.


DFW to LAX

As I feel the wheels let go,
             the lady behind me speaks
to her daughter—her voice

like the grind of a molcajete—
             like my abuela’s. Both
fluent in Spanglish with a dash

of long ‘Ah’ sounds in understanding.
             Texas stretches beneath us
the way I rolled dough into Texas-

shaped tortillas with my child-
             sized hands. Papas y huevos
in the air and a pile of toasted

tortillas. One spoonful of breakfast
             could fit in my state-shaped
tortillas but she always let me make them,

pack them for Abuelo’s lunch. Abuelo
             always working at the junkyard.
Migrant to his bones he’d travel across

Texas while she stayed in one place.
             She never climbed into the belly
of a plane. No desire to—the woman

quiets and the ground has become
             stitches of color, farmland
and roads harder to outline. It blurs

together, and I wonder if I can see
             Floydada from up here or if we
even fly near the town—where I know

Abuelo sits at the table alone—where
             Abuela will never see how close
I lean to the window—trying to find her.


Amanda Galvan Huynh has received scholarships/fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She was a winner of a 2016 AWP Intro Journal Project Award and a finalist for the 2015 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in the following journals: RHINO Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, Silk Road Review, The Boiler Journal, and others.