ekphrastic poem based on Guillermo Galindo's "Angel Exterminador"
and Wim Wenders' film "Wings of Desire"
she raced her little brothers to the top
of the rainbow painted carnival slide
the one she had been dreaming of all week
feet clanking up the metal staircase
rising in the middle of the desert town
a mirage of fantastic colors,
strange music and dust
out of breath at the landing, she twirls
in the four directions
to the south: her abuelita's hands reaching
out to her, cuidate mija
watch your step, watch your step
to the east, her mother's song:
sing your way home, at the end of the day,
sing your way home, cast your troubles away,
smile every mile, it will lighten your load,
it will shorten your road, if you sing your way home
to the west, her oldest brother on a fishing boat,
and to the north, the memory of her father's thirst
in the melt zone
never turn your back to the sea, he would say.
the sea, the sandstorm, the blast of la migra,
hail of bullets and the slide is lifted
in a horrendous crash, twister of dreams,
knocked the wind out of him, he is broken
and bent without the name his ancestors gave him
gutted like a fish, scales scraped off until the rust,
the rust of his skin is gone and delicate flesh
and the scorching sun have textured him
a new name: angel. angel. noose of drag chain
falls to the ground and the wind beats
the corrugated lies out of the body, singing
fly home my sweet angel, fly home through the sky . . .
when the child was child
she took a deep breath, grabbed the rough edges
of burlap and let go. her body shooting like a bullet
through border lies, blasting through
her angels watching her fly.
Originally published in More Good Talk: Poems from the Poets Laureate of Santa Clara County, July 2017.