Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Little Wolf #5 
November 2017 

"Hazel Eyes"
by Nicole Gilliland  

 by Jazimine Rioux

* runner up in the Student Literary Contest

With her little hazel eyes, she witnessed the construction of a world unlike any other.

Though she’d never remember it, the first thing she ever saw was her mother’s face, round and red. She saw the tears that left her soft eyes and rolled down her cheeks, mixing with the fresh sweat that resided there. Next to her mother, she saw her father with his long hair and his crooked smile. Though she didn’t understand it, those little eyes saw love.

After she learned how to walk, she’d stare out her little window for hours until screeching brakes sounded down the road. When she saw her father’s dented green truck come to a stop outside the old, worn-down house on the corner, she’d waddle to the front door to greet him. His smile shined bright each day as he scooped her up in his arms in the doorway with the pencil markings on it. He always had grease smudges on his chubby, rosy cheeks, which never failed to make her smile. She loved tracing the letters on his name patch with her tiny finger as he carried her inside and kissed his wife. At the time, she never saw how hard her father worked.

When she turned three, after her father removed his hands from her eyes, she saw a box wrapped in old newspaper. Her parents smiled lovingly and held each other while she tore it open. Inside, she saw a fuzzy stuffed rabbit with a blue bow around his neck. She saw in him, a best friend named Jimmy, and she never left his side.

At five years, she saw the things the other children had. They all owned colored chalk, pretty dolls, and nice shoes. She didn’t see why she couldn’t have any of those things. She only saw her father come home later and later every day. Eventually, he stopped scooping her up in his arms. Eventually, she stopped meeting him at the door.

The day her father never came home, she saw her mother cry for the first time. It was a tragic accident, said the policeman. He wasn’t in pain. She never fully understood at the time that her father was gone forever.

After her father had been gone for a while, she saw the paint peeling off the walls in the house and on the porch. She noticed the dishes would pile up and the laundry would remain in a corner in the living room. She watched her mother, in her green dress with the gold name tag on it, collapse on the couch every night with a glass bottle in her hand—a hand that was once so soft.

She was nine when she saw him. He was taller than anyone she had ever seen. He never smiled at her, not even when she introduced him to Jimmy. He just scratched the dark hair on his face and drank from the glass bottle that he shared with her mother. She saw that they shared a lot of things, most often her mother’s bed.

She couldn’t see anything through her tears the night he pushed her off the front porch. Her mother was at work when he did it. He made her promise to not tell on him. He said he’d hurt her again if she told. She ran to her room and hugged Jimmy until she could see again.

When he kept hurting her, she saw that he was a liar. Sometimes she would run through the house or play too loud and he’d kick her and make her stay in the closet until her mother got home. She saw the looks he gave her across the dinner table when her mother asked about her day. Good, she’d always say. She saw that she was a liar now, too.

Through the closet shutters, she saw him grab her mother when she yelled at him for the bruises on her daughter. She saw the empty bottles next to his chair and hoped he would be too tired to yell back. She didn’t want to see him hurt her mother. She squeezed her eyes shut and held Jimmy close to her until the yelling finally stopped. That night he left, and she saw her mother throw away all the bottles in the house, even the full ones.

A few weeks before her eleventh birthday, she saw him again when she was looking out her little window at the stars. He stood across the street with a brown paper bag in his hand. His face was hard and mean. She was happy that he wasn’t allowed in the house anymore.

One night, she saw red and blue lights disturb the darkness outside her little window. When she left her room with Jimmy close to her chest, those little hazel eyes saw something that would remain with her for the rest of her life. Before her scrambled brain could tell her what to do, a policeman scooped her up in his arms, just like her father used to do. She was put in a car and taken to a place with stairs and bunk beds. The woman there told her this was her new home and that she wouldn’t be able to see her mother for a while. She liked the bunk beds, but she missed her old home with the peeling paint.

She saw snow when she visited the city the next year. It made the chain link fences freeze and caked the field that was shaded by concrete walls. She was only twelve when she first saw the ice on the barbed wire. She saw her mother in dull orange clothes the first time she went to the city, and every time after. She never saw her mother in another color again. The dark under her mother’s eyes was gone and her hair wasn’t messy like it used to be. Even though she only got to visit her mother once every few months, she saw that this was better for them both.

When she closed her eyes at night, she still saw the dark red that stained the floor and the peeling walls. She still saw her mother’s soaked clothes and the kitchen knife in her hand—the hand that used to be so soft. She’d never forget his face, still hard and mean, but motionless. She’d always remember the slight smile on her mother’s red-speckled lips as the officer carried her away to a new world, leaving behind everything she had seen over the span of eleven years.
Those little hazel eyes carried a whole lot of weight, but they never stopped seeing.


* runner up in the Student Literary Contest

You complained about your eye color,
Saying it was dull and dirty.
Brown eyes bright and sparkling,
Full of mischief, you looked about thirteen.
Of course, you were seventeen at the time,
But the clock of time, seemed not to tick at you.
Each tock made you more beautiful,
And I would not be the fool:
The fool to say that they were nothing,
That they were full of depression.
Your eyes were deep and full of self expression,
But you just needed someone to hold you,
And to believe you could hold up the world.
You needed someone to tell you that you were their girl.
Your eyes were soft, and hard all at once.
They froze me in my spot,
But more often than not,
You lit my face on fire,
Because darling, I shall never tire,
Of your gorgeously beautiful entrancing brown eyes.

"For Years I Looked In the Mirror"
by Marisol Rivas Garcia

For years I looked in the mirror, wondering who I look like. Where I got my features? My hair? My brown eyes? My lips? Then, I would immediately look away and become enraged at the simple fact that I would crave to know you. Mother I tried to hate you. I mean, why should I care? Did you? I would ask myself how a mother could do this. Give up her own baby girl? How dare you send me off to this cruel world, by myself? I would be lying if I didn't admit that this was the source of my rebellion. Running from my thoughts. Not feeling like I was good enough. I mean, did my father even know that I existed? Why did you give me away? So many unanswered questions. But you know what mother, I stand here today, and if I could say one thing to you... it would be.... thank you. See, I came to the realization that what you did for me was so selfless, so courageous. So if I could say one thing, It would be love you. And I want you to know that if you ever feared that I would be angry.... I was. But now that has turned to appreciation. If you ever feared that I would be disappointed, I was. But then you became my courage. If you ever feared that I wouldn't be loved... I am so glad to tell you... I was. The homes and places I was in, reminded me why I am who I am now. If you ever worried that I would be neglected... who hasn't? If you ever feared that I would go hungry... I did. But now I have grown to appreciate every meal. If you ever feared that I would struggle... I did. But so do butterflies. And when they push forward, they are so beautiful! And are able to fly! Mother I am doing just fine! See, one day God whispered into my spirit... my child you look just like me. So I stopped running. These soul wounds are now healing. He has changed my perspective. No more questions. Because God is love. The One who knit me together in your wound has kept His promise. The father to the fatherless. He said that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. And no I was NOT a mistake. So now I come unashamed. Now I ask myself "How were you able to be so brave?" For my own sake. "How were you able to look into my eyes and have the strength to say good bye?" To give me my right to love and be loved. Mother even if there are no regrets, I'm not seeking an apology. You have given me the simple ability to breathe. Thank you Mother. For choosing me. So whoever you are..... I hope you know that I.... love.... you!

Sincerely, Your Daughter Mars