I just felt like he was fighting us with his machine.
             —Nellie Jo David

In Guadalajara to see where Motorola took the line
            my grandmother worked on, I can’t find the site
but spend the days in naves of a deconsecrated church

looking up at frescoes by Orozco. Here is a horse:
            a tow chain for tail, train piston for hock & hoof.
Over murdered Mexica, Cortez stands: lug nut hips

& kneecaps, gauntleted hand at the sword hilt, silver
            as a knot of solder. Opposite him: the Franciscan
& his Latin cross—miter-sawed angles hewn down

to dagger point—& an angel in assembly-line armor
            lifting a bloodied banner with the stenciled letters
of an alphabet, the one I must have started learning,

sing-song in the pitch & timbre of milk teeth, at 48th
            & Willetta, a one-bedroom duplex west of Papago’s
greasewood & buttes of sandstone & a block down

from the Motorola where my grandmother punched
            in nights to look after a conveyor of semiconductors—
those nascent ancient rotaries strung up to starlight

& empire (gaslighting like that Gast painting of progress
            & whiteness wrapped in telegraph wire, lithe & looping
as cake shop box string). No wall on O’odham land,

I hear the woman today protest from the bucket
            of a front-end loader—a Caterpillar, by her presence,
dumbstruck on tread wheels tall as vault doors, its maw

metal hollow, a confessional or old Mountain Bell
            phone booth she stepped into amid the felled saguaro
& ribs of organ pipe. Her body where dirt goes says

her body is the land the wall wants to eat. I stream this—
            download by data plan, by bandwidth, from the cloud
servers deep in their grid deserts to the crystalline

& rare earth minerals making my cell phone
            black box theater, making her code, making her
algorithm—both soprano & Mario Savio—the solder

seemingly quantum leap from soldada & solidarity.
            Still, I remember the ram’s horn baritone in my nana’s
King James, imagine her driving those years with riders

to shepherd the sound through solid state & know
            the harder truth: the defiant mic this woman makes,
resonates with her body beneath the digger’s teeth.

Copyright © 2022 by Brandon Som. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.