Women of the 1980s

They came from the municipalities  the cantones  the in between  children of campesinos  day laborers  drudges. They crossed water and deserts and left children  elders  husbands. They were children  lovers  spouses  mothers  elders  vagabond escapists. They prayed in the back of trucks so hard the virgin mother revealed herself at checkpoint to offer the miracle crossing of another boundary. Something was happening to them. So much had happened where they left. They changed the swelling cities but the cities changed them. They gathered burn marks  bruises on their arms in kitchens  in hotels  in other homes. They hid their names behind other names. They learned and did not learn new language. They crossed themselves waiting for buses  car rides  late night  early in the morning. They entered apartments at twilight where they laid beside sisters  friends  lovers. What were they dreaming as they slipped into their kitten heels  hair cut short  madonna-like lips painted red  dancing in the discotecas  downtown  uptown   outside the loop. They guarded pictures in their purses. They guarded themselves. They married for love  married without it  and they did not marry. And they loved  they learned  and they did not love. Learned to find and tuck themselves into their secret seams. The many things they would not tell their children. With illicit seeds they grow what they left behind  among the brush  little stems  memorials  now adornments at their windows.

Copyright © 2023 by Maryam Ivette Parhizkar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 11, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.