Chantel Acevedo, "Rubies in Her Ears"



Four weeks old, the needle, rum-dipped,
           held fast between the pads of her
           father’s fingers—
her mother could not keep her hands
           still enough, palsied by her animal
           need to shield—
his paw heavy on her tiny forehead, fingers
           so long they spanned her whole face—
           hand filling the universe, hand holding
the needle, threaded with red string, also rum-
           soaked. Thin aguja, thin as a fish bone,
           thrust through the baby’s
delicate earlobe, piercing a tender morsel of flesh.
           She cried. Twice for each jab—twice more
           when the thread was pulled through days
later—the abscinded flesh ready for the next
           violation—a pair of rubies—little pinprick
           gems, such brilliant wounds.


Chantel Acevedo’s first novel, Love and Ghost Letters, won the Latino International Book Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book of the Year. Her most recent novel, A Falling Star (Carolina Wren Press), won the Doris Bakwin Prize in 2013. Acevedo’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, North American Review, and Chattahoochee Review, among others. Acevedo was named a Literature Fellow by the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2013. She is currently an Associate Professor of English and Alumni Writer-in-Residence at Auburn University.