Natasha Trethewey

3. De Español Y Mestiza Produce Castiza

After a Series of  casta Paintings By Juan Rodríguez Juárez, C. 1715

How not to see
       in this gesture

the mind
       of the colony?

In the mother’s arms,
       the child, hinged

at her womb—
       dark cradle

of mixed blood
       (call it Mexico)—

turns toward the father,
       reaching to him

as if back to Spain,
       to the promise of blood

alchemy—three easy steps
       to purity:

from a Spaniard and an Indian,
       a mestizo;

from a mestizo and a Spaniard,
a castizo;

from a castizo and a Spaniard,
       a Spaniard.

We see her here—
       one generation away
nearly slipping
       her mother’s careful grip.