“Sofía, qué soñaste?”
On Sunday mornings before Sunday mass, while tidying up the house, we talked about our dreams. We all eagerly shared our dreams with each other. For Paloma, Crucito and I, it was important for Amá to hear and interpret our dreams.
“Sofía, qué soñaste?” Mom asked curiously as she sprayed cleaner on the grout between the white tile, and we cleaned the kitchen together.
“Amá, I dreamed about two finches. Two small finches with fully extended wings fluttered desperately. They were trying to escape from a large red cage with its doors wide open. But even though the two finches weren’t hurt—nor did they have clipped wings, they couldn’t fly away. In my dream, there was something standing in the background—but I couldn’t tell what it was. I think it was a black shadow—,” I recounted my dream as I degreased the wooden cabinets.
“Chofi, were the birds hungry? What did the water look like?” Amá asked as her pensive eyes locked with mine.
“The cage had plenty of seeds and clean water. The bottom of the cage was lined with clean newspaper. Nothing appeared to be missing. The finch that looked slightly smaller kept fluttering down as if it were fainting or dying. The other finch tried to help the fluttering one but couldn’t do anything.”
Amá then began her soothsaying and interpreted my dream. “Mija, people can be taken away from us—for many years. Other times forever. But we always manage to survive. Although we do need food and water, to be happy we need each other’s human connection. Food and water are never enough. Sofía, what was standing in the background? What are you afraid of?”
What was I afraid of? I wasn’t afraid of spirits like Abuelita Aurora. That’s for sure. But what was lurking in the background in my dream? What was I afraid of? I kept asking myself. What am I afraid of?
I was terrified.
I was terrified of the principal’s stories in elementary and high school, the news, and what the TV said could happen to girls and young women like me on TV shows and in movies.
Paloma and I could get abducted.
We could get slandered.
I could get raped.
I could get murdered, and nobody would ever find out who the killer was—or the honest truth. And lately, I feared Dad’s anger when he drank two six packs or more by himself.
But what could Paloma and I do?
Sonia Gutiérrez is a poet professor. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Huizache, AlternaCtive PublicaCtions, and La Jornada Semanal, among other publications. She is the author of Spider Woman / La Mujer Araña (Olmeca Press, 2013) and coeditor for The Writer’s Response (Cengage Learning, 2016). Her unpublished manuscripts Pájaros de Papel / Paper Birds, a bilingual poetry collection, is seeking publication. FlowerSong Press will soon release her novel, Dreaming with Mariposas, this fall 2020. Presently, she is returning to her manuscript, Sana Sana Colita de Rana, moderating Facebook’s Poets Responding, and teaching in cyberland.