Las casitas near the gray cannery, nestled amid wild abrazos of climbing roses and man-high red geraniums are gone now. The freeway conceals it all beneath a raised scar. But under the fake windsounds of the open lanes, in the abandoned lots below, new grasses sprout, wild mustard remembers, old gardens come back stronger than they were, trees have been left standing in their yards. Albaricoqueros, cerezos, nogales . . . Viejitas come here with paper bags to gather greens. Espinaca, verdolagas, yerbabuena . . . I scramble over the wire fence that would have kept me out. Once, I wanted out, wanted the rigid lanes to take me to a place without sun, without the smell of tomatoes burning on swing shift in the greasy summer air. Maybe it’s here en los campos extraños de esta ciudad where I’ll find it, that part of me mown under like a corpse or a loose seed.
From Emplumada by Lorna Dee Cervantes, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 1981 Lorna Dee Cervantes. Used with permission.