Latin American Heritage and Culture Magazine Fall 2022 route9.org instagram: @route9wes
Why Route 9?
Route 9 is the road that connects Middletown to the rest of Connecticut. It is the central artery of movement that every Wesleyan student, faculty, staff, and Middletown resident has driven on. It connects us and moves us forward; need we say more?
Sazon has been flavoring food across Latin America and the Carribean for centuries!It is a spice blend that while there are several variations, always contain the key ingredients: achiote (also known as annatto), coriander, cumin, garlic and oregano. Achiote is derived from the Amazon Basin in Brazil, but with time, arrived in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Carribean. Furthermore, it is an herb that dates back to the 15th century as being used by the Taino people in Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. As a spice blend that is popularly used throughout Latin America and the Carribean, it is a reminiscient of our unity as people and the differences within our culture.
The TeamAbby Frankenberg, Carissa Herrera, Julia Byrne and Alice Pereira
Cover Design Carissa Herrera Cover Image Amary Figueroa Special Thanks to
Oliver Egger for not blinking twice when I proposed the idea of creating this issue and for his continued support throughout this process.
Emily Rodriguez for her unfailing friendship and encouragement in pursuit of this small dream of mine.
The Wesleyan English Department for continuously providing a space where members of the team can come together and discuss what we like to do best.
The Editing Team for your willingness, care and dedication during a painfully long editing session; all in an effort to support me and this issue.
Note From the Editor
Welcome to this special edition from the Route 9 collective!
This edition contains stories about all the biggies; love, family, self-reflection and heartbreak. Who doesn’t love a little heartbreak?
I’m so excited to be able to present an issue dedicated to highlighting Latinx/o/a authors and artists!After reading through and staring at each of the submissions I stood back in awe (actually fell backwards into my chair) of how much talent there is here. It was inspiring to me and I hope it is to you reader, whoever you might be.
To the writers and artists: Thank you for opening up, being vulnerable and sharing work that you thought would never make it out of your notes app and google drive.
To readers: Sit back in your comfiest chair (or poorly cushioned bed), maybe pour yourself a cup of coffee and play Top Latin Hits on Spotify...or Apple music...if thats your jam....Enjoy the vibes!
Sincerely Grateful, Carissa Herrera
Table of Contents
La Distancia Cambia by Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña 1
The Distance Changes [English Translation] 2
Love Reading by Amary Figueroa 3
Lo que cuentan mis tatuajes by Kay Araceli Dominguez 4
What my tattoos can tell [English Translation]
Abuelita by Julissa Cruz 5
RIP by Erick Buendia 6
Life, Leaving and After by Isabella Lozada 7
Vignettes of the Kitchen by Genesis Pimentel 8-10
Love Reading by Amary Figueroa 11
Maquillaje Entre Montañas by Isabella Lozada 12
Castillos De Arena by Amary Figueroa 13
Gissell Ramirez by Gissel Ramirez 14
Dos Entidades by Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña 15
Two Entities [English Translation] 16
Sabor a Naranja by Amary Figueroa 17-18
All the Words I Never Said by Carissa Herrera 19-20
Sabor a Naranja by Amary Figueroa 21
La Distancia CambiaBy Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña
La distancia cambia.
Te cambia los zapatos, te cambia el color de tu piel, te cambia el nombre, te cambia a ti y te cambia a los demás.
La distancia fue creada, la distancia nació y creció y creció y nunca dejó de crecer. La distancia envejece pero no se achica.
La arena rodea la distancia, pero también el agua, las nubes, y los bosques, y la carretera que mandó el gobierno a construir para hacer la distancia más corta. Pero la distancia no se acorta. Sigue estando lejos, lejos. Sin nombre, sin zapatos, sin cara, sin piel, sin ganas.
Dime distancia, cuándo fue que te conocí? Acaso fue cuando vi por primera vez los ojos de mi madre, llorosos y drogados por la anestesia?
No, creo que fue cuando abrazaba a mi abuelita por la espalda en las noches de lluvia y truenos.
¿Qué tal cuando me subí a ese avión con destino al norte? La distancia es una construcción social. Es un enigma. Es un taboo. No digas esa palabra en esta casa. Te lo prohíbo.
Un día la dista…perdón. Un día ella se enamoró en el norte. Se dejó querer por primera vez de un extraño. Se dejó tocar, se dejó desarmar y se transformó. Se creía imposible lo que sucedió. Finalmente, se achicó. Pequeña, ella podía sentirlo todo con fuerza y potencia.
Te reías tan fuerte que los vecinos te mandaban a callar, hablabas tan directo que intimidabas, olías tan profundamente que inventabas tus propios olores, escuchabas tan claramente que te teletransportabas a otras galaxias. Sentías todo en esa pequeñez. Estabas alegre.
Oh mi amada, se mía y solo mía. Te mostraré lo que es glorioso y único. Habrá dolores pero jamás de los jamases serán intencionales. Ella respondió que era algo absurdo hacerle tal declaración, puesto que ella ya se había entregado sin pensarlo.
The Distance ChangesBy Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña
It changes your shoes, it changes the color of your skin, it changes your name, it changes you and it changes everyone else
The distance was created, the distance was born and it grew and grew and never stopped growing. The distance becomes older but does not shrink. Sand surrounds the distance, but also water, the sky and the forests, and the streets that the government constructed to make distance shorter. But the distance does not shorten. You are still far, far. Without names, without shoes, without a face, without skin, without desire.
Tell me distance, when was it that I met you? Was it perhaps when I first looked into my mother’s eyes, teary and drugged by the anesthesia?
No, I think it was when I embraced my grandmother from around her back during the rainy, thunderous nights. How about when I boarded that plane with its destination to the North? Distance is a social construct. An enigma. A taboo. Do not say those words in this house. I prohibit it.
One day the dist…I’m sorry. One day she fell in love in the North. She let herself be loved for the first time by a stranger. She let herself be touched, she let herself become disarmed and she let herself be transformed. What happened she believed it to be impossible. Finally, it got smaller. Small, she could feel all of its strength and potency.
You laughed so hard that the neighbors called to tell you to be quiet, you spoke so direct that it was intimidating, you smelled so deeply that you invented your own smells, and you listened so clearly that you teleported to other galaxies. You felt everything in that smallness. You were happy.
Oh my love, be mine and only mine. I will demonstrate to you what is glorious and singular. There will be a pain, but never will it be intentional. She replied that it was absurd to make such a statement to her since she had already given herself up without thinking.
Love Reading by Amary Figueroa
Lo que cuentan mis tatuajesBy Kay Araceli Dominguez
Las palabras, memorias, y pensamientos son como tatuajes Escritas en tinta permanente Dibujos que traen tanta alegría Y recuerdos de la persona que nunca seré otra vez Son pequeñas heridas decoradas con color para construir una historia en mi piel Tengo tatuajes que me encanta enseñar, y tengo tatuajes invisibles que solo son para mi Dicen que los tatuajes requieren una tolerancia al dolor, y tenían razón Pero los tatuajes que más duelen son los que no ven y los que se hicieron sin querer ¿Por qué me siento como si no tuviera control de mis tatuajes? Mis tatuajes te dirán más que lo que yo podría expresar Mis tatuajes son mi historia.
What my tattoos can tell [Translation]
Words, memories, and thoughts are like tattoos
Written in permanent ink
Drawings that bring so much happiness
And memories of the person I will never be again They’re little wounds decorated with color to construct a story on my skin
I have tattoos that I love sharing And I have invisible tattoos only for myself They say tattoos require a tolerance to pain, and they were right But the tattoos that hurt the most are those they don’t see and those that happened by accident
Does it feel like I have no control over my tattoos?
My tattoos will tell you more than I could ever express My tattoos are my story.
Life, Leaving and AfterBy Isabelle Lozada
Papi says he used to climb orange trees on this farm his parents once owned When his father was alive and blind and couldn’t see him run off
Papi used to walk two hours to school and back But amor you have it good here You don’t play soccer barefoot and your mother knows where you are
Papi’s brother used to race on a motorcycle through the mountains in this town He was good and made money and they called him El Diablo
Papi left home in his twenties Took six months to find this land found out it was broken and wished he had never left
Vignettes of the KitchenBy Genesis Pimentel
Noemi sits on the white couch wrapped in plastic in the living room, contemplating how to enter this kitchen full of women and ask her mother for permission to go out. It’s hard enough to convince her borderline agoraphobic mother to let Noemi leave the house; to ask to leave the house with no destination, with no parental supervision, and with boys around is a suicide mission. But she’s eighteen, and it’s the summer before college. Why the hell can’t she ask her mom to go out after 5 P.M.?
Noemi would rather save herself the trouble of having her mother tell her she can’t go out tonight. She knows her mother cares so deeply, so anxiously, that Noemi has internalized the anxiety deep inside herself. Noemi picks at a small rip in the plastic covering the arm of the sofa before deciding to be a grown woman. And then, finally, after a moment to breathe, she walks into the kitchen. The smells of the makeshift salon overpower her. The burning hair hits her first. The floral aroma of the shampoo being washed out of her aunt’s hair in the sink comes second, and the muted stench of the hot wax to remove eyebrows, mustaches, and all excess hair third. One of her aunts beckons her to eat.
“No, I’m not hungry. Thank you, tia.”
Everyone stops. They all look at her.
Another aunt: “Gorda, you don’t wanna eat?” “No.”
A chorus of voices echo one another. ‘Ta enamora. Noemi stands there, awkwardly. “Yo no ‘toy enamora na’.”
She turns to her mom. Her mom is sweeping, pink tank top on, rolos in her hair. “Mami, can I go out?”
“With who? Where y’all going? What time you getting back?”
“I’m going with Aliza and Isaac. And it doesn’t matter where. I’m grown now, Ma. I gotta start being able to do shit on my own without telling you.”
Noemi sits down on top of the kitchen table. Her mother turns to her aunts, shaking her head at Noemi’s boldness. “Y’all think she got a boyfriend?”
They nod. Ta aficia de un tipo por ahí. Esa loca.
“Es que no, yo no toy aficia’ na’. Ustedes piensan como que hay hombre’ bueno por ahí pa’ aficiame.”
They speak again. Okay, okay, ya. You wouldn’t know what it’s like to be asfixiada.
They pronounce the word entirely and deliberately, forcing it to hold weight on their tongue and letting it sink into the room as they say it.
Oh, Noemi. You don’t need to know what it’s like to be in love like that. It’s dangerous. It’s abusive. You don’t need a passionate, impulsive man. You need a stable one. A boring one. One that comes home in the evening with his feet hurting, his stomach empty, and
and his eyelids closing. Like your father, yeah. He’s a good man, and that’s only because your mother learned. After Aracely’s father, he’s the right choice.
Ay, mija, what don’t you already know? It’s not like our love was passionate. But he was. He was an envious, possessive man. If there was anyone in the world who was all-uppercase, bold-lettered, underlined aficiao, it was that man. He would show up everywhere I was, had the entire police force under his control, and had our neighbors fed up. I remember my neighbor would yell at me, ‘Leave with that man already! Tiene a uno jarto!’ And when I did, he would hit me. I remember that one time he hit me when we were in his brand new car. I punched the windshield as hard as I could for as long as I could until it shattered. I pulled the windshield out and started beating on him, and we were just swerving on the road until I opened the car door and rolled out. You’re lucky you have a mother like me, creating boundaries for you and keeping you safe. Mami se degaritó a Venezuela when I was a child. She was a bad mom, and that’s how I ended up getting held at gunpoint by Aracely’s father, escaping him until he ran out of money. Then, when he made his escape to Haiti, I made mine to New York. You would think your aunt Marisol would fare better than me. I mean, I raised her. But she’s just like your sisters, Aracely and Crisleidy. Those girls just don’t listen when it’s good for them.
Why your mother says I’m not faring better than her, I’ll never know. I just don’t believe in the marriage thing. It was all because Chico was a drunk. We’d still be together if he could put the liquor bottle down. And don’t look at me like that because I don’t drink that much anymore. I haven’t stolen a bottle of tequila from your cabinets in over two years. At first, he couldn’t keep his hands off me, in a good way. Then I got pregnant. He was cheating on me when I was pregnant with your younger cousin, and when he would come home, liquor was on his breath and coursing through his body, making his hand hot and heavy when it landed on my skin. But we’re cool now. You know I bailed him out of jail a couple years ago. He was living with me, but paying me rent and keeping it real business-like until he was up and gone. And while he was in jail, I would talk to God. Tell God to send me a sign.
Four nights in a row I have the same dream, just me, my children, on the shore of the beach by ourselves watching a man drown. Seven ships pass him. I wake up, and I know two things. One, I’m not meant to support a man the way you gotta support un marido. Two, he gave me the loteria numbers just like that. Four nights, three for me and my children, one man, sevenships pass him. I wake up, and I know two things. One, I’m not meant to support a man the way you gotta support un marido. Two, he gave me the loteria numbers just like that. Four nights, three for me and my children, one man, seven ships, and fifteen to sum it all up. Plus, now you know me and Juan have a good thing going. Well, after he left esa gringa loca who kept showing up at my house. He pays for everything here, and we love each other. It’s the least he could do after driving off the
Dominican men. They have whole other families, but God forbid you try to find the love of your life.
Griselda Runs a Tight Ship
You know, men are like dogs. A well-trained dog never causes you any trouble. A dog you let grow up untrained will only keep pissing on your carpet no matter how much you try to correct the behavior. Your uncle? He’s aficiao in the best way possible. He’s been by my side for thirty years, and he has never strayed once. Even when I did. When I did, he was coming around asking what he did wrong and how he could fix it. Did I threaten him with a baseball bat in the beginning? Yeah, but I never used it. It’s really about establishing your dominance with a man. They like to test the waters, see what they can get away with, increasing the offense until they have to repent. And when they repent and you forgive them too quickly, they’ll go back and do it again. There is no repenting, and there is no water here. You know what I got? A house, a ring, three children, a chef, and head from a man who eats it like he still has something to prove.
The story circle dissipates with murmurs of agreement. All that’s left is her aunts muttering their disapproval of Marisol’s sleeping with a married man while the room fills with the water running through their shampooed hair, the hair dryer heaving, the wax strip loudly ripping hair off an eyebrow. Noemi clears her throat.
“Que paso, gordita?” one of her aunts asks.
Noemi shakes her head. She starts to walk out of the kitchen, but she never gets to the living room. She’s stopped by her aunt who’s waiting on the wax to cool before using it.
“Noemi, esperate.” She grabs Noemi by the shoulder, hovering her face too close to Noemi’s own.
“Tanto bigotes. Sit down. Te tienes que hacer la cejas, mai.”
Noemi is forced into the chair. Knowing this is a fight she’s already lost, she shuts her eyes as the hot wax is spread above her right eyebrow. Her aunt moves away to get the paper strip. In a brief moment of time, there’s no movement around her, so she clenches her fists around the chair’s armrests. She inhales, holding her breath, preparing. Rip. She exhales. Off with the hair, all the pain, a ritual of getting pretty for the boys that her mother talks about existing but whom she will never let Noemi meet.
Maquillaje Entre Montañas1By Isabella Lozada
My tias2 awaken to the smell of café and arepas Ready for a day of primping and prodding
They begin with the swiping of powder on their cheeks The drawing in of dark, thin eyebrows that no longer exist Then the five layers of lipstick the most rojo3 you’ve ever seen
They must forever reign as beautiful Protectoras, reinas, hermosuras4 things to be treasured Because qué más hay?5
I come to visit the mountain town they stride on and through And I am princesa I too am primped and prodded in preparation for nothing but Chismeando and arreglando6 by other tias who call me preciosa but fix me up anyway
This is how we bond as mujeres 7 because lo demás es para los hombres8 And we are nothing without this face of maquillaje
1 Makeup Between Mountains 2 aunts
4 Protectors, queens, beauties 5 what else is there?
6 Gossipping and Fixing up 7 women
8 the rest is for the men
Castillos De Arena by Amary Figueroa
Gissel Ramirezby Gissel Ramirez
And — I already messed up because classrooms always told me don’t start a sentence with “and” even though you’ll find
Google says there’s nothing wrong with this. How I hate starting. I’m always wrong anyways, just look — my first word keeps leaving Microsoft’s red stain behind. Did I mean my name was Gisela? Or Gisele? Perhaps one more L - Giselle. Quietly just ignore the suggestions (all of them) — en los Estados Unidos se habla ingles. I still don’t know what sound x makes in English, or why y is sometimes a vowel. Today I’ll say zero but never say cero like I’ll say Giselle not Gissel.
Dos EntidadesBy Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña
Caminan por el mundo, cruzando bosques, ríos, montañas y praderas Por años Sin verse Sin tocarse Sin saber que la otra existe Hasta que un día, sus caminos cruzan Se ven Se tocan Se vuelven dos en una Se abrazan por las noches, en el silencio grande de la oscuridad Por el día, llenan cada rincón de cada edificio de carcajadas
Los días pasan, sus células se entrecruzan Las memorias se llenan de juegos, lágrimas, enojos, besos, secretos Son dos almas enamoradas Destinadas a estar juntas Por siempre O no Las noches silenciosas se empiezan a llenar de desacuerdos Los días se vuelven más tensos Hay silencios más dolorosos Se tienen que despedir Hasta aquí llegó su hora Uno se vuelve dos Separación Ruptura
Dos almas rotas Dos caminos diferentes Cada una llevándose un pedazo de la otra Por el resto de sus vidas Se aman a la distancia Se extrañan en las noches oscuras Se recuerdan de vez en cuando al pasar los años Volviéndose memorias infinitas para la otra
Two EntitiesBy Luz Elena Ángeles Saldaña
Walk through the world, crossing forests, rivers, mountains, and grasslands
Without seeing Without touching Without knowing that the other exists
Until one day, their paths cross They see They touch They become two in one They hug at night, in the great silence of darkness
By day, they fill each building corner with laughter
The days pass, their cells entertwine
Memories are filled with games, tears, anger, kisses, secrets They are two souls in love Destined to be together Forever
The silent nights become filled with disagreements
The days become tense
The silences become more painful They have to say goodbye
Now their time has come One becomes two Separation
Two souls torn
Two different paths
Each one taking with them a piece of the other
For the rest of their lives
They love from a distance They miss each other in the dark nights They remember one another once in a while as years pass Becoming infinite memories for the other
Sabor a Naranja by Amary Figueroa
Excerpted from All the Words I Never Saidby Carissa Herrera
To ex: lover, friend, partner,
I hope you read this with a cafecito in your hand, a token of my love and that my memory floods your brain until you need to confront it.
It was in the bookstore that I saw you for the first time since it all fell apart. I could tell it was you by the way your worn-out blue jeans hung slightly loose around your waist and how your curly hair peeked out from under your large silver headphones, calling attention to you. Funny because you always hated people looking at you or maybe it was just you and me together. Standing there with you in my view I had to will myself to move, to slink away and melt out of existence. I stood off to the side realizing too late that you needed to cross in front of me to get the rest of your books off the shelf. I pushed myself up against the wall to make space for you and everything that comes after you. If I could curl up and make myself even smaller than how I feel, I would do it to accommodate you. You.
The muscles in your neck strained slightly as you pass by and the scent of fresh pine wafted my way. It wrapped itself around me warmly asking me to come back home. Grinding down on my teeth, I considered saying something; a greeting or an apology. Maybe it was stubborn pride or an unspoken agreement to no longer care about one another. Whichever it was clamped my mouth shut. Walking back home, I soon realized that I had been duped,bamboozled; one could even say deceived. Julián, you cheated me of what I thought I was falling for from the moment that I met you.
I’m sure you remember that day. Drunk and bleary-eyed as I stumbled across your friend’s backyard party. You reached out a hand, steadying me, and I couldn’t help, but notice the roughness of your skin. I looked up and through the haze, your brown eyes met mine with what I could only describe as desire. You played nice for a while. Offered me a cup of water, a companion to walk me back home, and even stressed to me that your mama had raised a gentleman. And when I questioned your intentions all you said was, soon you’ll see over and over again.
Sitting between your fingers was a lit cigarette burning ever so slightly. You placed it in between your lips and I couldn’t help but become mesmerized by the way they formed a perfect O as you exhaled, smoke filling the air. Then you held it out to me wondering if I would take a chance. But as I mulled over the consequences you decided for me, you pressed the cigarette to my mouth, taking pleasure in watching my lips part and inhale. It was my first time ever smoking a cigarette, but you already seemed to know that. Coughing slightly, I exhaled my
throat burning slightly. Let me take another drag, I said, and you eagerly gave me my own cigarette. It was only then that you asked me my name.
You complimented me on my skin, a perfect shade of cinnamon. But as you whispered Marianna right before you kissed me, I ignored the subtle pang in my stomach. The creak, the ache would go away with time I thought. Sitting in your friend’s kitchen with the music blaring and watching sweaty bodies packed together tightly moving with the rhythm I thought that this was how all great college romances start.