Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Chicana Returns To Nebraska From The Former Yugoslavia --

Saludos La Bloga readers.  For almost a year, I have been a Fulbright scholar living in the former Yugoslavia.  I have recently returned.  My flight to the U.S. took me from Belgrade, Serbia, to Frankfurt, Germany, and then on to Denver, Colorado.  I stayed with familia in Denver to acclimate a bit before driving the almost seven hours back to Lincoln, Nebraska where I live and teach. Just a few days ago, I completed the final trek. During those (almost) seven hours, I began writing a poem (in my head) because of the feeling of sudden familiarity about what I was seeing on this short I-80 Nebraska road trip. For almost a year, most everything I had been experiencing in the former Yugoslavia was new and different, demanding continual energy to make meaning. But here, suddenly, I was on land not completely unfamiliar.  And so this poem is all about what I saw on my trip to Lincoln, Nebraska.  A small explanation:  "Nebraska" is an Otoe Indian word.which translates to: "flat water," a literal description of the Platte River that runs alongside much of my I-80 journey (about 300 miles long) and cuts across the state.  

I see you, Nebraska

I see you, flat water
past the Colorado state line
the way you wind round this land about me:
these bluestem, bluegrass, buffalo grass lands
the gramas and indiangrass
that long prairie cordgrass 
“Yes, I remember you”

I see you, flat water 
running beside me, under me 
I-80 black top laid out miles ahead,
down to sea level, to river's bank
this Missouri tributary
while Joni sings,
“I’m traveling in some vehicle”

I see you, flat water, 
One great egret unfolding its wings from your shores
Its long black legs trailing, 
Cooper's hawks watching atop high mast light poles.
A quarter mile later,
farmers on their balers spit out 
their hay in round fat chunks 

I see you, flat water,
Even at the gas station
when the Harley Davidson women arrive,
their river patches on their leather chaps
her lace-up bodice, their straps and shiny boots
cool spangled braids
water reflecting off their shades

I see you, flat water
how you shape like a snake
almost coiled like Coatlalopeuh
your distant cousin
reminding me from where I come
where I’m going
taking you with me always

I see you, flat water
Your rows and rows of corn fields
you nourish
a crowded field of waving yellow tops
not quite yet ready in their glowing green
stalks mid-size, the maiz
wet from your pivot irrigation 

I see you, flat water
In between the trucks to my right
with showy lights, corroded steel plates
even a spanking red race car transport
But this one catches my attention--
the 18-wheeler with the “OM” symbol on the back
and “India” painted in calligraphic splendor on the driver’s door 

I see you, flat water
How the summer’s hazy sky
heavy with your vapors
opens up my pores, makes me think I can swim across the highway
You and “Canicula” or dog days, the Heliacal rising
Sirius warning us of possible worse days
unless, unless we heed

I see you, flat water
the lives you’ve taken and received.
How the loon mimics her grieving llantos, 
that echo across sandy borders, that filter into fog wisps
or simply hover at the in-between moment of dusk
your stratus clouds 
metallic silver snake patterns

I see you, flat water
After being swept up by many other rivers 
so very far away
with their histories, their secrets, a watercourse 
of torrents, floods, deluge, cascades of complexity
What they taught me, I see
in your reflection, what has always been.  

--Amelia M.L. Montes

1 comment:

msedano said...

this tierra is wondrously beautiful. welcome home