VERNACULAR
Ana Maria Caballero

3:45 pm—After we drop off his cousins at their home after school, my six-year-old son asks the meaning of the word "exquisitely."

3:46 pm—I assume he heard his cousins use the word and invoke gratitude for same city family and older cousins who will guide my son all the way throughout an entirely effective life.

3:47 pm—I ask my son where he heard the word.

3:48 pm—In a video.

3:49 pm—I wallow in small, self-referential mediocre mother thoughts.

3:52 pm—I tell my son what the word means: in a great, awesome, and incredible way. Okay?

3:52 pm—Okay.

6:07 pm—I drag my son out of soccer class after the class is over but before the last penalty kick is kicked by the last remaining kid.

6:08 pm—I tell my son it's been enough, and he's got to learn enough.

6:09 pm—I hate you exquisitely.

6:10 pm—Quiet in the car.

6:11 pm—Additional quiet in the car. My son and I both wonder how I, his mother, will react.

6:12 pm—I, the writer, laugh and turn the music down.

6:13 pm—My son, who does not know I, the writer, does not laugh. He senses a joke he does not get and so assumes the joke is him. Now he must cry because of pride.

6:14 pm—Time for I, the mother, to mother. Impart some valuable lesson about words, harm, and the definition of "enough." But I like I, the writer, better than I like I, the mother, and make the choice to let him cry.

6:15 pm—For a minute.

6:16 pm—While I, the writer, figure out what, exactly, I, the mother, should not say.

6:17 pm—Exquisitely is the only way to hate your mother. But only your mother. Okay?

6:17 pm—Okay.






Ana Maria Caballero was born in Miami in 1981 but spent most of her childhood in Bogotá, Colombia. She is seeking an MFA in Poetry at Florida International University, where she was runner-up for the Academy of American Poets Prize. Her nonfiction manuscript A Petit Mal won the International Beverly Prize for Literature. It was also shortlisted for the Tarpaulin Sky Press Book Awards and the Split/Lip Press reading cycle. Her collection Entre domingo y domingo won Colombia's 2014 José Manuel Arango National Poetry Prize. Finishing Line Press published Mid-life, her first chapbook, in 2016. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in outlets such as the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sundog Lit, Tupelo Quarterly, Gigantic Sequins, and The Southeast Review and was a finalist in Ploughshares' 2019 Emerging Writers Contest. More online at anamariacaballero.com.

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Twitter: @theDSnotebook
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