Sunday, May 10, 2015

Regalos Para El Dia de las Madres: Poems for Mother's Day

En este Dia de las Madres pienso en todas las madres.  I think of all mothers and how they differ.  There are some women who became mothers by accident.  There are other mothers who planned and dreamed of becoming a mother but never did due to various circumstances.  There are women who became mothers to other mothers’ children.  There are very happy mothers, some not so happy, and other mothers who struggle with mothering every day.  To all kinds of mothers, I honor you with three poems.  These poems are not Hallmark Card fluff and pithy sayings.  I chose them for their honesty, for the reality of life and love they bring to us. Here are Mother’s Day gifts:

This first poem is by Rosemary Catacalos.  She is the 2013 Poet Laureate of Texas and this poem, “A Vision of La Llorona” is from her collection, Again For the First Time which received the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Prize. 

A Vision of La Llorona
                                                            for G.

I see your mother every week
now that you’re gone.
Sometimes she knows me
and remembers to be polite.
But other times her eyes,
so like your eyes,
are already on the loose, already prowling
by the time she gets to me.

Today your father was with her,
but she’s not looking for him either.
She follows her eyes, so like your eyes,
all through the town,
turning their consuming blue
on the winos in football jerseys
and urine-stained pants,
the old women who can’t step up curbs.
She follows her eyes so like your eyes
into taco shops and libraries and bars,
scrutinizes the old men shooting the breeze
and killing time on Main Plaza,
even peers under the skirts
of Our Lady of Grace and Our Lady of Sorrows.
She is alert to the possibility
of disguises.  She examines everyone
with even a hint of a wing,
sometimes sneaking up from behind
and grabbing their shoulders,
feeling for the supernatural bone
that resembles her own,
the telltale sign of flying.
Then she’s deep in their faces,
the faces of all the fliers,
looking for her lost mirror,
the only water with the right reflection,
looking for her same eyes staring back at her,
looking for the only power
that since the day you were born
matches her own.

Your mother, looking for the blood
that will never dry,
her only son. 

This second poem is by Ramón Garcia.  The poem, “Acapulco 1965” is from his poetry collection, Other Countries.

Acapulco 1965

Here is Mom, wearing a one-piece bathing suit
and Dad next to her
with his arm around her shoulder,
looking like they never will again—
she with Dolores Del Rio hair
and he with the Elvis Presley pompadour and dark sunglasses.
It is their luna de miel, Acapulco 1965, and they are
on the beach, smiling, the ocean in black and white behind them.
Is Mom a virgin still or is this the day after?
Do they love each other?  And how?
What are they thinking?  What dreams do they share?
They do not know of trailers in Modesto, the feel of peach fuzz on the skin
and the hot fields, flat and heavy across Central Valley afternoons.
The fruit-picking and the canneries would come later,
after Dad continues his card-playing
and his father sends him and his new wife al norte.
They are as I’ve never
seen them or imagined them to be.
Did they kiss back then?
Did they like each other’s company? Were they content?
In that other country?  In that other life? 
And what of the losses and the gains?
Of the Mexican children who never turned out as planned? 
This last poem, “Mamá Azúcar” is by Olga García Echeverría, who also writes for La Bloga.  She shares Sunday postings with me.  This poem is from her collection, Falling Angels:  cuentos y poemas.  

Mamá  Azúcar

It really wasn’t her name but
everyone in the building
called her Mamá Azúcar

Turo the donut man said
it was cuz when she put out
she was all brown sugar spilling
over like hot pilloncillo syrup
Too much of that’ll make you sick
he’d say and the men would open
their bocas in laughter agreeing
Sí sí sick make you sick

Her real name was Panchita
given in the spirit of revolution
after Pancho Villa
or at least that’s how she told it
¡Yo soy toda revolución!
See these big chichis here?
Son como las tierras de México
everyone has either had or wanted them
Son de todos y de nadie. 

She didn’t mind though
being called Mamá Azúcar
As long as they don’t start
calling me Panocha she’d say
throwing back her head full of black hair
laughing a carcajadas
Sara and me would laugh with her
thick lips red as mami’s chile Colorado
eyes masked in dark hues

We wanted to be
just like her—toda mujer
the kind of woman who owned
the space she walked on
a full-moon dark-as-tamarind-seeds woman
redonda and soft at even the elbows and edges

Simón would catch us admiring her
from behind the stairwells and warn
Solamente hay dos tipos de mujeres
the kind you marry
and the kind you find in the streets
floating round like filfth
Miren a esa desgraciada del apartamento 13
She’s one big revolving door
todo mundo entra y sale
entra  y sale
Si no se cuidan muchachas you’ll end up panzonas
Si no se cuidan you’ll end up like her

Didn’t matter what Simón
or anybody else said
Mamá Azúcar was the only woman
in the building who didn’t have a man
yelling at her
who woke up singing
the loud sounds of Celia Cruz
Tito Puente Mongo Santamaría
blaring out her windows
She was the only woman
who didn’t have baby on hips
who came and went as she pleased
who flipped men in and out of her life
like flipping tortillas on a hot comal

She was all sugar alright
but not the piloncillo type like Turo said
She was more like the center of ripe guava
the tiny seeds dancing
on our young hungry tongues


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