Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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.

Credit


From The Small Claim of Bones (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez. Used with the permission of Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe.

Author


Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Cindy Williams Gutiérrez is the author of the small claim of bones (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2014). She lives near Portland, Oregon.

 

Date Published: 2017-09-18

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/fathers-memory-mexican-mining-camp