Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rolling hills

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Arnoldo García

Rolling hills

Rolling hills
ondulating around the sun
shredding the light
Toppenish became my home
drunk Indians and Mexicans
(that is, drunk Indians all)
Three syllables
three roots
dirt roads
hop fields
sugar beet
green beans
the ranchers
drained the Yakama's river
to irrigate cash crops
White Swan stranded in the desert
three seasons and every winter
putting us in our place
My grandmother and my grandfather who took her lead
thought this better than Texas
where whites lynched Mexicans.
Here they strangled us
with hard field labor
Even the Indians had to changez
the spelling of their names, their homeland
so no one would confuse
Mexicans from Yakamas
Yakamas land forever from Yakima lands for sale
That is whites only
took their lands
and made us work it
made fertile volcanic dust
mesh with our sweat,
our dream of return
only to die paupers
without land, work or home
except in the cemetary.
Toppenish, rolling hills, makes
me dizzy
swallows me up
my soul is a tumbleweed
dried up at the mercy
of lost northern winds
Toppenish is my home
my horizon my word
my roots are also
buried there.
My hands lie fallow
I hibernate in dreams
of toxic-free seeds
and uneven rows
meant for walking
and not tractors
we grew up walking
migrant comet trails
blazing cornstalks,
green beans, hops
orchards across
the brown sky of the land
In Toppenish
you see everything
and you see
what you need to see
You cannot ignore me
or forget me in Toppenish
I did not choose this land
This land did not choose me
or my people.
Now she is mine and I hers
Toppenish is the wind become
mountains, hills, vallety,
volcanic path, migrant tomb,
laughter and bully.
the hills ondulate
cutting the horizon into my eyes....

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