Spring 2010, Volume 8

Fiction by Ricardo Zamorano Baez

Summer Bugs

At noon, I parked the John Deere tractor under the guamuchil trees that were at the side of the corn fields I was plowing, and I sat on the ground resting my back on the trunk of one of them. That day, I didn’t unwrap the meat and bean burritos my wife had cooked for me because I knew the morning hours had sucked their warmth and taste the way it had done all week with my other lunches. Instead, I listened to the bugs singing in the bushes, and for a moment, I envied them—I envied them for the way they sang all day as if they were giving thanks to the world despite the heat of June pinned to our bodies like a leech, and despite the fact that summer rains would come and drown them all. It had been months since that winter when death came hidden in the cold air and nested in the lungs of my eight year old son and did not leave until it had swallowed all his life; since that day, I hadn’t sung anything.

The air perched on top of the trees like a buzzard resting on the pole of a barbed-wire fence. I lay down on the ground and closed my eyes to sleep for a moment before going back to work, but the sound of tires wheeling on the road made me get up. It was my youngest son who had pedaled his bicycle six miles to surprise me with a warm lunch like my wife often did knowing that the lunch she had made in the morning would lose its taste and warmth by noon.

“Hello, son,” I said as I walked to him to help take the plastic bags off the handlebars.

“I saw two coyotes on the road,” he said with a voice cut by deep and fast breathing, and he quickly wiped the sweat from his forehead with the back of his arm; his cheeks were pink-red like the inside of an unripened watermelon.

“Where?” I asked as if coyotes where unusual to be seen.

“There!” he said pointing far back on the road. “They were big and hungry and when they looked at me, I sped very fast and left them far behind.”

I listened to him talking about the coyotes and other things he had seen on the road as we sat next to each other eating the cocido with homemade corn tortillas that still were steaming. I chewed the meat, the pumpkin, the carrots, and the potatoes very slowly to taste them carefully.

“Didn’t you get scared when you saw them?” I asked. He shook his head meaning “no.” I placed my arm around his shoulders, shook him carefully, and lightly rubbed his hair with my fingers. He grabbed the two liter bottle of lemonade, filled a glass, and put it next to my plate without saying anything, and at that moment, I felt like I was singing, singing loud like a summer bug.


BIO:  Ricardo Zamorano Baez grew up in Mexico and has lived in the United States for the last six years. He attended Reedley College and transferred to UC Riverside where he currently majors in creative writing. In 2008, he received the Ann Gregor Poetry Prize. His work also appears in Symmetry, Intensity, and The Packinghouse Review.