Father’s Memory of a Mexican Mining Camp
Softly, it always began softly.
Then slowly swelled to a wail.
Men’s voices. Maybe seven of them
up on the hill behind the house.
A breeze through the window
stirred the curtains like clouds.
I was five, or six. Around midnight
it would start—such a doleful sound.
They were drinking. It was Saturday
and the mines were closed. Their song
would wake me—their longing.
It was a language I knew,
though I couldn’t make out the words.
But the music—that was theirs.
Some ancient secret. A string of notes
piecing together who they once were.
My twin brother slept soundly.
I was alone with this mystery.
It haunts me even now, this lament
to their gods. If flowers were songs—
if the marigold sang, it would mourn
like this. I imagine them still
sitting on a dark hill chanting
their dirge. Some nights I wake—
I hear them. I don’t remember
my dreams, so I dutifully make
my way to the window.
All I see are clouds and mist.