Back then, she hated the way the little girls clacked their dollar store sandals on the sidewalk
they pulled each other’s braids.
Back then, she hated the night time because that’s when the worst calls came.
She loved that all her daughters were married but hated the men they chose. She still
points at their wedding photos above the television when we watch the evening news.
She hated the way the stray cats scratched her porch. She’d sweep them off with that
old kitchen broom with the red peeling paint.
She made the worst bean and potato tacos in Taos. Me and all my cousins knew the
sour funk of her pinto beans like a favorite song.
The smell from her pressure cooker would slap us on the back of the head if we tried to turn
away from it.
Back then, she let her potatoes get soft like baby feet before she peeled them down to the size of
They tasted like old marshmallows coated in salt. I used my teeth to scrape the taste off my
Then she heard it–The Taos Hum
Aunt Celeste wasn’t the only one to hear it
She was just the weirdest about it.
Others described it as a
like an old refrigerator
and they worried,
not because New Mexicans worry, but because only a few in Taos could hear it.
She said it sounded like flies bumping against
Scientists from Los Alamos
came and did tests
They set up machines in Aunt Celeste’s home and movedall the pictures of her daughters into boxes. She complained on the phone
to her neighbors
about the black monitors with red and green lights that blinked
when anyone talked too loud and the long metal antennas
that never moved an inch,
but always poked her butt
when she walked by.
But nothing ever explained the sound only a few could hear.
So the scientists went home.
They took their gadgets off her shelf, and she made them
put her pictures back where they were.
My auntie said she could finally hear what the stars were saying.
at the passing cars that interrupted their conversations in the middle of the night.
She started asking
if I had friends with single dads every time I went over for
her disgusting tacos.
She said the hum told her to have lots of sex and the stars told her to have it
She rouged her cheeks
with lipstick and painted her lips with the juice of cherries she ate
by the pound.
She still made a vat of pinto beans
every other day and they still smelled like old running shoes.
After she heard the hum, she
would yell at my cousins and me
to help her peel potatoes. We never
She’d put a grocery bag in the middle
of the kitchen table and tell us to fill it
with skin, and to tell each other stories
as she hummed along to the sound none of us could hear.