Who is Quien?

︎︎︎ Chris Rubio-Goldsmith

︎ July 7, 2021

Quien es who?
El General Motors lowrider at the park.
La Proctor and Gamble piñata wacked at the fiesta.
Los Major League Baseball game vendors yelling Chu-rooos.

My great-grandmother crossed the frontera
during the Revolucion. Settled in the
territory, a company mining town.
Smelter. The sheriff knew my
grandfather’s name, Manuel Rubio,
before his sixteenth birthday.


Sometimes he took my brother and me
across the line. We went for haircuts
in AP. Visiting the apostles who sat
in the red vinyl chairs lined against
the piso to techo windows. They all
held magazines with boxers or baseball
players on the cover, and they all greeted
my grandfather with smiles and, “hola,
Manuel.” Then they’d see my brother and
me walking at his side.

Tio’s putting on The Stones
“Sticky Fingers” and
later my grandfather placing
Jorge Negrete on the turn table.
Who is quien?

La Family

Son tus nietos?
De Raquel.
Ella es abogado?

The apostles would run their calloused hands
over our heads. A veterano
blessing. They would look at our
blue eyes and smile at my grandfather.
Los ojos son azul.
Estas seguro que son tuyos?

The room let the declarative hang.
My grandfather was a man of few
words but when he spoke, no one
was confused by his intention. We were
his first two grandchildren.

The tierra meeting el cielo.
The ocean overcoming the horizon.
An imagination Villa could never have claimed.
Quien es quien.

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith was born in Mérida, Yucatan, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and taught English at Tucson High Magnet School for 27 years. Much of his poetry explores experiences growing up near the border, being raised biracial/bilingual, and teaching in an urban high school where over 70 percent of the students were American-Mexican. Many years ago, Chris graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His writings have appeared in Gigantic Sequins, The Laurel Review, Fourteen Hills, the anthology, America, We Call Your Name, and other publications. His wife Kelly helps edit his work.