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hat’s how things were for some time then. With the Midwife acting like the midwife that she is, the child la Soledad was finally born, and from the first minute of her life she was dressed in white as was her mother Hortensia, who chose for herself robes of a white that is almost yellow so as not to appear to rival the robes of her daughter who she said was sent from Heaven. And you know how life is. It goes on from one day to the next, even in the lives of the saints themselves. There was the business of the house and there was the little house in back that was slowly turning itself into a shrine where Hortensia sat day in and day out with the baby la Soledad on her lap while one person then another came to pay their respects to the little virgin. And reports of little miracles that followed closely after the birth of la Soledad began to reach our ears at this time, told by some of the people who came to kiss the hem of la Soledad’s white robe. An old man’s dog got up from the very hole in which it had been thrown for burial. A truck of cabbages turned over covering a little boy who was saved by the strong branches of a mountain laurel bush that he was walking past and who said, when they pulled him out, that as the cabbages were falling over him he had a vision of the little virgin who lived down the street. And there were other little miracles. A woman who was baking for the brothers at the church ran to the little house in back to pray that her cakes would rise again that had fallen when her husband slammed the door when he came home from work. This miracle, indeed, was also carried out, as I know for myself when the woman showed up the next day with a cake for the little virgin who had saved her baking and another cake for the Midwife who gave us this shrine in our own neighborhood in the first place. And this is how it went. Someone’s baby took its first step. Someone’s mother recovered from a spell. What I’m saying is that this was the daily progress of the life of the little virgin, and so in its own way it was the same as any other life. Some things happen. Other things don’t happen. Who can tell the difference? Hortensia for her part became more and more convinced of the special nature of her daughter. And on top of that, her own feelings about herself as the mother of this little saint also began to grow. She said that it’s one thing to be a whore forever and quite another thing entirely to start out a life in the profession of a whore in order to compare everything else that comes after it in life to that experience, though she would not say such a thing directly to the Midwife even under the protection of her new position as the mother of a saint. And I must admit that, when I first heard the stories of the little miracles, I thought that perhaps I should go to the little house in back to see what all the other people went to see, that from the way some people talked Hortensia and her baby la Soledad must have been replaced by a vision of the heavens or at least by the angels of gold you see inside the biggest churches downtown or at least by some trick of mirrors Hortensia devised. But when I looked inside all I could see was Hortensia in her yellow robes with the baby la Soledad sleeping on her lap while an old woman was touching the white hem of her dress. That’s all I saw and so I saw no reason to look again very often. You can see that kind of thing anywhere you go. Even in the bars they have it. And I say this because in those days we used to go to Los Dos Amantes Lounge that used to be not so very far away from here. All of us would go there. When business was slow on a certain night, the Midwife would say that it was time to get out of the house altogether and she would close the house at midnight saying she would take anyone who wanted to go and Chuy who doesn’t know what he wants but will never refuse a beer. We would go to Los Dos Amantes, and after the first months of the shrine Hortensia would also come carrying Soledad Mata dressed in white. We would sit there in the bar all together with the baby on the table. And the little virgin, she would all the time be saying, Ca, ca, ca, ca, and all the time one of the women would be holding onto her leg or her arm, and anyone who was in the bar could not fail to notice her, who even then had eyes that had their starting point in another world entirely. And Hortensia was always watching everyone who watched la Soledad. No one walking by in Los Dos Amantes Lounge could fail to reach out a hand to touch the baby on the head or to kiss the baby’s feet. And even as they were walking up or standing not far away captured by the eyes of purest light, Hortensia was already saying to them, Tocala, tocala, touch the little one, the way she almost sang it sometimes, sounding like the priest himself before the Holy Virgin, making sure every person touched la Soledad, who was herself saying, Ca, ca, ca, making sure no one looked without touching, that no one left the mark of their vision of the world, what they call the bad eye, without wiping it off again with the light touch of their appreciation. And every once in a while, someone who was too drunk to see his own salvation would stumble out of Los Dos Amantes, and Hortensia would hand the baby virgin to someone sitting next to her and run out into the street and grab the wayward sinner and start yelling, What’s the matter? Are you too fucking drunk to touch the closest you’ll ever get to God Almighty and all His angels? What the fuck is the matter with you, you And then she’d look around at everyone in the bar and announce, You think it’s easy being the mother of a saint?You can never give in. JANUARY 11, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 33