by Mireya Perez

to María Sierra Tamara

María, listen very carefully. See this belt. Here is the patrimony of the family. Feel it, see how heavy it is

It’s filled with morrocotas, solid gold coins. There is more than enough here to take care of la familia for at least five years. Here, María,  put  it on. Keep it safe, and don’t let anyone  else know what’s in it for now. When mama recovers from the childbirth, tell her, she’s a very smart woman, she’ll know what to do.

María, I rely on you. I will send word as soon as I can. I’ve arranged for the cattle to be transported with me. As soon as I’m settled in, I’ll be able to send some funds. María, let me give you la benedición.

María lowered her head to receive her father’s blessing, the weighty leather belt tight around her waist. When she looked up, Papa, silent like a cat, was gone.


Mireya Perez-Bustillo, born in Colombia and raised in New York, writes poetry and fiction in Spanish and English. In her work she searches for that “other voice” breaking through entrapment and oppression, the fragile markers to unearth more hidden voices. Her work appears in Revista del Had, Caribbean Review, Americas Review, Diosas en Bronce: Anthology of Colombian Women Writers, Vibe Viva< IRP Voices, among others. Her novel, Back to El Dorado, is forthcoming.