Stories From El Salvador: 900 Soldiers

Feb 22, 2019
10:34 AM
Originally published at Stories From El Salvador

“A constant resurrection” by John Collins (Oil on cloth mounted on drywall, 18” x 10”, June 2, 2018/Artist’s Page

By Ingrid M. Calderón-Collins

He’s like 5 feet tall, my father. Funny how he used to look like a giant to me. At four years old, he was my best friend. When he could, he’d take me swimming to Los Chorros, and buy me clothes while he did his rounds as a bus driver from Santa Ana to Sonsonate.

He’d let me dress him up and put make-up on him, and if he wasn’t paying attention, I’d pierce his ear with one of mom’s gold earrings.

Most of his past is a mystery to me, as he’s quite the reserved man when he ain’t dancing.

My father’s father wasn’t a very kind man. Typical of his generation I suppose. He was an unforgiving womanizing thief.

He made my father go to school barefoot, and frayed him with belts for his kid mistakes.

So of course, as a grown man, my father became obsessed with shoes.

He’s a size 8½.


So when my partner asked what my father would like for Christmas, it’s shoes.

It’s always shoes.

So we buy cheap wrapping paper, and for the first time ever I decide to wrap his present instead of handing it to him in the bag it came in. We get him comfy slippers from Target cause he’s older now and all he wears nowadays are comfy things. But he looks less than pleased, his closet is full of expensive boots, tennis shoes, slippers, and penny loafers. But he puts them on and realizes that, this might not be so bad after all.

As the night unwinds, I can hear his old feet dragging on the cold floor as I watch Saturday Night Fever. He sits next to me and smiles at Tony on the television.

In his youth he was Tony.

Danced like Tony.

Dressed like Tony, and had odd jobs like Tony.

I worked at a shoe store, where the owner trusted me with his shoe shop and sent me on long road trips to some of his richer clients. I’d always say yes to a job, no matter how tired I was or what plans I had that night. I always said yes to a job. So because I had shown to be a hard worker, he sent me off to one of the hardest jobs I’ve had. He told me to go to a military station on some remote part of the mountains and measure the feet of 900 soldiers. And I did. I measured all of their feet and brought back the results, and made charts of how many of each size, and went back to deliver them when they came. I always said yes to a job. Always.


About Ingrid M. Calderón-Collins
Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins is an immigrant from El Salvador. She studied journalism at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. but failed to finish because she found a job that provided her with good steady income and an apartment with a beautiful view of Downtown L.A.

Her work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, Rabid Oak, Rhythm & Bones Lit, Pussy Magic, Punch Drunk Press, South Broadway Ghost Society, Mojave He[art] Review, Moonchild Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE amid others.

She is also the author of four volumes of poetry, ‘Things Outside,’ ‘Wayward,’ ‘Zenith,’ & ‘Ablution.’

Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins lives in Historic Filipinotown, CA, with her husband, painter and poet John Collins. For poetry and rants. follow her blog at  and on Instagram @Brujapoetry & Twitter @BrujaLamatepec.

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