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The dominican children were even cruel enough to make up a song about my mother, which they would sing in the streets before throwing rocks at her as she passed them by:

Pobre pobre Esperanza

Ella nunca consequira trabajo

Ella va a ir al carajo

Pobre pobre Esperanza

Ella no tiene ningun suerte

Ella no se levanta ni un pie

Pobre pobre Esperanza

Ella es un oveja negra

Vamos a tirarla un piedra

Pobre pobre Esperanza!

I remember my mother’s hands being covered in bandages during that time, from the glasses she broke at the restaurants and had to clean up. She tried so hard, but this was the DR. My brother and I were starving, and my mother had no money. She had no real skills, no job and the only thing she had left was: her beauty. Like a lot of the island woman my mother was exotic with tanned skin, a curvy figure and long, thick, wavy black hair. She was unique in that she had large eyes, a long nose and full pouty lips.

My beautiful, kind, pure-hearted mother became a prostitute, who would sell her body to fat, rich, gringo merchants. Most dominican prostitutes harbored hopes that they would convince one of their clients to marry them but my mother was ‘damaged goods’ and had the burden of two kids. My mother became a prostitute and the bandages on her hands disappeared, but I remember laying awake in bed at night and listening to my mother crying herself to sleep.

“A woman can’t give her body to a man and not end up falling a little in love with him.” My mother confided to me one day with a painful expression on her face. “The body is the temple of the soul. When you have sex with someone not only your bodies are uniting but your souls as well. If there is no love behind the sex then your soul can be hurt. The gringo merchants…even after they’ve left me far behind…I still feel something for them in my heart. Machete…please keep this in mind when you have sex with women. Women are different than men. We can pretend to be like men, and pretend that we don’t get attached, but it’s all a lie, an act. Please only have sex with a woman you love. Please promise me this, Machete. Then you and the person you are with won’t get hurt.”

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