A friend emails me a poem each week, along with a one-page background on the poet, which she researches and writes. She's not a poet (she says) but she appreciates poetry.
She sends a mixed bag of poets I know and don't. This week a Latino poet. Last month a New Zealander. I'm always learning.
I know there are organizations that provide this same service, but I like thinking of this one person — whom I've met only once and briefly — each week thoughtfully choosing a poem and sharing its story with me and others. I like that one poem, lovingly shared by one person, can tie us all together in a poetic pause.
Thank you Vicki.
This Week's Poem (No. 382):
In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes
in a Tex-Mex restaurant. His co-workers,
unable to utter his name, renamed him Jalapeño.
If I ask for a goldfish, he spits a glob of phlegm
into a jar of water. The silver letters
on his black belt spell Sangrón. Once, borracho,
at dinner, he said: Jesus wasn’t a snowman.
Arriba Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed
into a car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Frijolero. Greaser. In Tucson he branded
cattle. He slept in a stable. The horse blankets
oddly fragrant: wood smoke, lilac. He’s an illegal.
I’m an Illegal-American. Once, in a grove
of saguaro, at dusk, I slept next to him. I woke
with his thumb in my mouth. ¿No qué no
tronabas, pistolita? He learned English
by listening to the radio. The first four words
he memorized: In God We Trust. The fifth:
Percolate. Again and again I borrow his clothes.
He calls me Scarecrow. In Oregon he picked apples.
Braeburn. Jonagold. Cameo. Nightly,
to entertain his cuates, around a campfire,
he strummed a guitarra, sang corridos. Arriba
Durango. Arriba Orizaba. Packed into
a car trunk, he was smuggled into the States.
Greaser. Beaner. Once, borracho, at breakfast,
he said: The heart can only be broken
once, like a window. ¡No mames! His favorite
belt buckle: an águila perched on a nopal.
If he laughs out loud, his hands tremble.
Bugs Bunny wants to deport him. César Chávez
wants to deport him. When I walk through
the desert, I wear his shirt. The gaze of the moon
stitches the buttons of his shirt to my skin.
The snake hisses. The snake is torn.
It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to appreciate people, places, things (and poems). Joy contracts and expands in proportion to our gratitude. What makes your world expand?