Poems, Lyrics, & Short Stories I Like

Discussion in 'The Writing Gallery' started by Spidey, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Spidercanrana

    Spidercanrana Should've Reinstated The Fox
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    "Letter to My Father" by Martin Espada

    October 2017

    You once said: My reward for this life will be a thousand pounds of dirt
    shoveled in my face.
    You were wrong. You are seven pounds of ashes
    in a box, a Puerto Rican flag wrapped around you, next to a red brick
    from the house in Utuado where you were born, all crammed together
    on my bookshelf. You taught me there is no God, no life after this life,
    so I know you are not watching me type this letter over my shoulder.

    When I was a boy, you were God. I watched from the seventh floor
    of the projects as you walked down into the street to stop a public
    execution. A big man caught a small man stealing his car, and everyone
    in Brooklyn heard the car alarm wail of the condemned: He’s killing me.
    At a word from you, the executioner’s hand slipped from the hair
    of the thief. The kid was high, was all you said when you came back to us.

    When I was a boy, and you were God, we flew to Puerto Rico. You said:
    My grandfather was the mayor of Utuado. His name was Buenaventura.
    That means good fortune.
    I believed in your grandfather’s name.
    I heard the tree frogs chanting to each other all night. I saw banana
    leaf and elephant palm sprouting from the mountain’s belly. I gnawed
    the mango’s pit, and the sweet yellow hair stuck between my teeth.
    I said to you: You came from another planet. How did you do it?
    You said: Every morning, just before I woke up, I saw the mountains.

    Every morning, I see the mountains. In Utuado, three sisters,
    all in their seventies, all bedridden, all Pentecostales who only left
    the house for church, lay sleeping on mattresses spread across the floor
    when the hurricane gutted the mountain the way a butcher slices open
    a dangled pig, and a rolling wall of mud buried them, leaving the fourth
    sister to stagger into the street, screaming like an unheeded prophet
    about the end of the world. In Utuado, a man who cultivated a garden
    of aguacate and carambola, feeding the avocado and star fruit to his
    nieces from New York, saw the trees in his garden beheaded all at once
    like the soldiers of a beaten army, and so hanged himself. In Utuado,
    a welder and a handyman rigged a pulley with a shopping cart to ferry
    rice and beans across the river where the bridge collapsed, witnessed
    the cart swaying above so many hands, then raised a sign that told
    the helicopters: Campamento los Olvidados: Camp of the Forgotten.

    Los olvidados wait seven hours in line for a government meal of Skittles
    and Vienna sausage, or a tarp to cover the bones of a house with no roof,
    as the fungus grows on their skin from sleeping on mattresses drenched
    with the spit of the hurricane. They drink the brown water, waiting
    for microscopic monsters in their bellies to visit plagues upon them.
    A nurse says: These people are going to have an epidemic. These people
    are going to die.
    The president flips rolls of paper towels to a crowd
    at a church in Guaynabo, Zeus lobbing thunderbolts on the locked ward
    of his delusions. Down the block, cousin Ricardo, Bernice’s boy, says
    that somebody stole his can of diesel. I heard somebody ask you once
    what Puerto Rico needed to be free. And you said: Tres pulgadas
    de sangre en la calle: Three inches of blood in the street.
    Now, three
    inches of mud flow through the streets of Utuado, and troops patrol
    the town, as if guarding the vein of copper in the ground, as if a shovel
    digging graves in the backyard might strike the ore below, as if la brigada
    swinging machetes to clear the road might remember the last uprising.

    I know you are not God. I have the proof: seven pounds of ashes in a box
    on my bookshelf. Gods do not die, and yet I want you to be God again.
    Stride from the crowd to seize the president’s arm before another roll
    of paper towels sails away. Thunder Spanish obscenities in his face.
    Banish him to a roofless rainstorm in Utuado, so he unravels, one soaked
    sheet after another, till there is nothing left but his cardboard heart.

    I promised myself I would stop talking to you, white box of gray grit.
    You were deaf even before you died. Hear my promise now: I will take you
    to the mountains, where houses lost like ships at sea rise blue and yellow
    from the mud. I will open my hands. I will scatter your ashes in Utuado.
     
    #51

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