Friday, April 19, 2013

[Poema 19] Socorro

Our mother
is wailing
her anger is choking her
she raises her face into the night
Her tears rain up into the darkness
Manuela is on the front step,
the only step of our home,
she is crying, wailing
the neighbors turn off their porch lights
the houses all around become shadows under the trees
Her husband
is in the back room
a tiny room that has a stove, a refrigerator, a counter
and room for one to stand and another to pass by.
he is drinking black, cold coffee
his sun-beaten face,
his hands and skin
toughened as a bracero
etched in migrant seasons
bronced in the fields
joins Manuela,
who is crying just like the night
Socorro eloped with Francisco.

Coco tells me Manuela and Jose have visited her
over and over the last few weeks.
They ask her what she wants.
She says: Make me some frijolitos like before.
That's all I want.

Socorro does not hear the cries of her mother and father
In between sobs
they tell their gods
not to bring her to them yet.
Manuela wails and wails, she must live longer than me
she must see her great grandchildren be born
José holds Manuela at last by the shoulders,
puts his arms around the viejita
rubs his stubbled face against her neck and earrings
His breath and clothes smell of a Camel cigarrette
an aroma that only a farm-worker
can make into a memory of meals and laughter
after the long day in the fields.
Manuela stops crying
José is now whole again
They sit by Coco's bedside
and wait, listening to her breathing and dry her tears.

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