The Road to El Dorado


By Ariana Brown

It is my 22nd birthday & I
ask to watch Mexico on film.
My girlfriend shakes her head, says
"I don't think you will like this one";
says "I remember everything about this";
says "this is one of the worst ones";
says "that's Hernán Cortés" & points
to the broad-shouldered man of metal
long made ash & frightening, even
in the safety of animation.

but I am wholly righteous with age, &
curiosity is the poor woman's wine, so I
laugh at Cortés's size like his shoulders aren’t
the wide shadow of history, & I say
"this is wildly inaccurate"; I say
"they have the wrong accents"; I say
"I never watched this and realized this was supposed to be Mexico"; I say
"I do not remember any of this"; I say
"I am nobody's prisoner"; I say
"I never bowed to him"; I say
"I never bowed to any of them"

& perhaps that
is the crux: once
the violence
began, none of us
could recognize
ourselves. 


Ariana Brown is an Afromexicana poet from San Antonio, Texas. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, member of the University of Texas at Austin winning team at the 2014 national collegiate poetry slam, and is currently working on her first manuscript.