Michael Mejia


(after George Rodriguez's Tia Catrina & Uncle Sam)

SHE: Ay, cariño, tu never ring anymore, except on nights when the wind howls, every light gone dark. Then your coin drops from dusty moonlight, glazing the barren hill, some hunched dogs, a pistol's muzzle, fingerless hands of nopal. All the empty homes here: a lineup of skulls. The last time, you kept shouting listen, listen to me, and I cried my eyes all the way out—pero, te amo, cariño. Sí, todavía te amo.


HE: I never remembered my dreams after that first coming to. Waking in darkness: the dawn chorus and one sharp voice—fresh timber. No time! No time but for the making of it. A sloped field to clear, wresting stump and stone, the setting of fenceposts, wattle and daub. A barn, a well, an outhouse. By the fire, her pale hands washed my feet. God's firmament, all quiet again. Only the rumble of wheels passing by—

SHE: We could lie close as we used to, amor, two mountains at a pass, riverbanks joined in the current, the mud we make, the dark roil: beatings of one tumbling heart, the wounds and bruises of that old, slow collision. One body, close to burning, burning, on a rock, in the sand, nowhere not us, and speaking in tongues. Why turn your back, turn back, to you, alone? Rest here, amor. Somos tu corazón.


HE: No nodding, you. Hoist them dungarees with a fresh hide belt. Make for the emptiness that broadens shoulders. Red rock and pasture. See: a mountain of their skulls. Well, I'll be your uncle, Monkey. Rope and barb wire, today. Dude up on Sunday. Say a prayer as you drive each nail. See you in the funny papers! Those guns going off: it's a holiday.

SHE: [Wanders the desert, trailing a zagging lizard, finds her old vecinos resettled beneath saguaro, ocotillo, their sunken faces all smiles.]


SHE: I can't hear you from over here, amor, so I'm throwing a few rocks, little love notes, memoranda, memento mori. We'll wait for you beneath the bridge. No olvides! There's a little baby under here, our sisters and cousins. Still breathing. They could use a drink, but, you know, we'll wait. We always will. One day, you'll look our way again. With love. It's certain. Press yourself up against this fence a minute. Look again the way we do.


HE: They'll watch from the highest windows, their holdings blooming across the valley, up the hillside, down to the sea. The map is the territory! But they'll accept better offers. They'll open lines of credit, dam them up, trickle off a bit to them and thine. Outside the red line only, hear? No surprise they'll keep making it, making it up, to the top and over. World beaters: no secrets in their blood, no tint. Pure as water from the tap, mostly.





My friend, poet Janée J. Baugher, offered us a choice of works to which we might respond for her book The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction (forthcoming from McFarland). You can find Seattle-based artist George Rodriguez's larger-than-life icons of Mexico and the US [here], living in separate but contiguous worlds. You can help immigrant families [here], [here], and [here] .