I know I'm suppose to share a poem about the holidays for this Holiday Blog Tour 2011 but I have never been good at writing poetry centered around a theme. But one thing the holidays are about besides presents is family. One of the most important members of my family was my grandmother.
My grandmother was the matriarch and she loomed over us like a humid summer in Houston. She was big part in our lives, in my life. Don't get me wrong, she had her faults, plenty of them but she had her good ones too. For example, she showed me how to be man. On Sundays, she would sit in her rocking chair with her parrot, Pancha on her shoulder while watching Mexican boxing. She would tell me things like men, real men speak with confident, deep voices. So, the following poem is for her.
Enjoy your holidays and enjoy the time with your family.
Abuelita sits in rocking chair
with multicolored parrot on
left shoulder while knitting
a sweater three sizes too small
for a grandson pudgy around
the waist. On the television
two men circle each other in a ring.
Dusty-skinned Hispanic dancing
around,lashing jabs,tentative left hooks,
right crosses that dissolve in midair
or turn into harmless slaps.
This is domingo where abuela
refuses to stay in linoleum kitchen.
Her bones cringing from sunlight
forced into her veins. Her brittle
shoulders with Palmolive soap
stilling the stale scent death
with sweet perfume. Despite all
signs of danger, all threats of disease
her hands remain outstretched,
reaching for cursive shadows of sun.
In this garage apartment
rests center of my family, source of
masculine pride & identity.
When I was 9 with voice soft,
sweet like girl in summer rain
she yelled, Habla como hombre
Or when she picked ticks off
pitbull, making me step on
tiny crawling sacks of blood.
This is Maria Luisa Ortiz,
woman who walked on snow-covered
Chicago streets to garment factories
in warehouse district.
Woman who pulled weeds out of rose bush
gardens with hands chapped,
knotted with cuts, bruises & scars.
But on days like this, watching
boxing on old television screen,
I emerge with laughter: manly,
tough like abuela's hands.
*Be sure to stop on the next stop of the Holiday Blog Tour with Deborah Grace Staley