It’s getting late.
Outside, men speak in clouds of steam
But the cheery red tent is heated by our bodies,
Sheltering us from the night.
Mariachi songs dance around me
I’m tap-tapping my fingers on the tablecloth
I’m swallowing a plump bean burrito
The wallet in my backpack grows thinner.
A woman clambers on stage
The music stops.
A little girl. Lost. White shirt. Pigtails.
We all glance at one another, wring our hands
But I see the pigtails attached
to a white shirt attached
to a little girl,
Sitting alone at a table next to mine.
¿Dónde está tu mamá?
Tiny shoulders shrug, unknowing
Dark eyes searching the crowd, my face
I take her hand in mine
Miniature, hot, and gentle
We twist through the noisy, restless mass of dancers
Until I see a face
I see relief and exhaustion and triumph
Directed at this little angel I found,
Who is whisked away, snatched up
Like I might have stolen her.
They melt into the crowd
Without so much as a thank you.