Memoir Mixtapes Vol.1 / Track 21

Careless Whisper by Ingrid Calderon

<<<<I know you’re not a fool>>>>

 

I knew it when I saw your wild hair,
your red dress,
your huge smile and chiclet teeth,
your red lips…

“the end will be beautiful”, you giggled with young enthusiasm–

your face like a prized pony
pliable and free

you came speaking words that looked pretty falling from that smile

your fingers, long
clawed lovingly at my scalp
lulled me to sleep/

the men looked,
but never touched
their fingers clutched like small bombs in their hands

you walked with thunder in your heels
like a storm category 3/

the burning paper
between your lips,
smelled like hot earth/

come night
your smile ceased
it set with the sun
it left with the breeze

 

 

 

you’d claw my scalp
and chew on sugarcane

 

&

 

sloooooooooowwwwwwwlyyyyyyyyyyy

float to the cassette player and
fumble in
a translucent grey tape-

in thick marker graffiti IT READ:

W H A M – CARELESS WHISPER

 

closed the lid,
pushed P L A Y

I’d heard those words hummed from your mouth before
usually on our way to the bus-stop

 

but…

WHAT DID THEY MEAN?

WHO SANG THEM?

 

Why did it leave me sad, and melancholy?
Why did I swell up with saltwater?

a small lake on my cheeks

 

why did my throat mimic his french horn lungs?
his commas?
his fucking crescendos?

my small lungs,
incapable of swallowing that much air…

 

you’d laugh and sigh and claw my scalp
digging tunnels through my hair

we’d listen
for hours,
and eventually
I’d fall asleep
to the rustling of your chest
to the alto sax
to the breeze coming in through the open window…

 

(It was November of 1984, 5 years into the Salvadoran civil war. My cousin, who had spent some time in the States, came back to live with us and brought back American music on cassette tapes. At night, my father had his cumbias and boleros, and I finally had the 80s.)

 

About the Author:

Ingrid Calderon is a Salvadoran refugee that scribbles nonsense and makes it into verse. She hopes it resonates. Her goal is to be an anonymous voice that cuddles the masses. You can find her on Twitter @BrujaLamatepec

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