We Carry the Earth

p
o
e
m
s

We bring the harvest and lay it at an altar
of bread crust, pierced gold earrings, and the bones of our first born

Banana leaves halo the foundation of her body,
we salt the sand she rests upon, sprinkling the mineral from seashells

We pick translucent grapes and squeeze the juice into our downturned
mouths, lay gardenias to frame her death, perfume the pain within our
  muscles

You see a carcass of stone, barren of life, bleached ossein,
we see the child that ran between the Saguaros and wore red Matucana’s in
  her hair

 

 

Cognac woven leather wrapped her brave feet as her toes tipped
sharp rock, skipped over puddles bordering the desert on lucky rain days

White sun burned through camisas de primos, sent to us del Norte,
worn threads unraveling with each day of wear, cada dia without descanso
  or certainty

Black hair flying like whipping palms, set aflight from much needed breezes
cooled café skin burning cedar brown with each step on the red tawny dirt
  taking us closer

Cyan sky hovered over our contorted path, twisted like a sapphire river
pooling into a sea of compadres singing the blues at the frontera, asking,
  “¿Y de dónde tu vienes?”

 

 

It must have been the cold
concrete holding her like iron gate
choking her lungs into frozen
prayer, holding her breath
tight within grey mucus and swollen sacs
bubbles of air that stopped
circulating, like language
words that fall dead on icy ears.

 

 

mihcacocone
tlahquilli
tlamiz

 

 

Se murió de neumonía.
There was no water.
There was no soap.
I was taken away from her.
Lloró en la mañana.
She called to me at 3 am.
I was not there.
You were not there.
We were not there.
We still are not there.
She will continue to cry her song in wind until we are there.
A shriek in the current is free to move, cross, fly beyond the flimsy delusion of
  barriers.

 

 

Her body will dust your land which is my land which is our land
We do not carry danger to your door
There is no door
There is no danger
There is only land
There is only earth
We carry this Earth on our skin
We carry it in our lungs
We carry it as our body which holds all bodies
Dirt from many tierras that are one tierra
We set it at an altar
We set you at the altar
We set ourselves at the altar
We set our firstborn at the altar
See the altar
See the Earth
Come carry it with us
Carry the child
Carry the family
Carry the people who are your people who are yourselves
You have been invited.

 

 

 

The words at the center of the poem are in the Nahuatl language. They mean “dead children,” “tomb,” and “this will end.”

Grisel Y. Acosta is an associate professor at the City University of New York-BCC. She is the author of the collection Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere, a finalist for the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize.

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