Yo he visto al águila herida
Volar al azul sereno,
Y morir en su guarida
La vibora del veneno.
Jose Marti, "Guantanmera"
And for the cruel one who would tear out
This heart with which I live.
I cultivate neither thistles nor nettles
I cultivate a white rose.
Jose Marti, translation, "Guantanmera" translation, Pete Seeger
I'll never forget the first FIESTA SAN ANTONIO events I attended, having visited from San Diego, a relative kindly took me, per my pressuring request, to what I heard was going to be an entire city metaphorically singing. Festival of foods and bright garb, dancing to live Mexican music, walking cobble-stoned streets or cement sidewalks, city coming out, at once
And on the Friday before the final Sunday, morning after the night parade, where floats are lit and magic neon lines the streets, eleven days spanning, much of the city shuts down late morning or at noon the second Friday, in order to honor a traditional parade, Batalla de Flores, Battle of Flowers parade, a tradition borrowed from Spain, Catalonia, and Colombia.
The first night I was exposed to the explosion of color, sound, and joy, was at what the city knows as NIOSA, Night out in Old San Antonio, the most charming city, becoming more charming? Colorful garb on all the women, casual or crisp, creased and cuffed shorts on men, their billowy Hawaiian shirts or fine-stitched guayaberas, cool linens in a warm night, lucky if breezes blow, blessed when they do, in a dank city that embraces heat and humid air, creating beads on beautiful skin, then the bright and popping colors of Fiesta wreaths around heads, the flowing varied ribbons, interweaving with womens' and girls' hair, the collected medals people make a love out of, yearly collecting, more and more and more, pinning them on lapels and sashes and belts and purses, donning them like a history they make; this year, a beautiful medal from the San Fernando Cathedral, the Holy Mother's graceful visage, as San Antonio celebrates its 300th year, newscasters remind, San Fernando Cathedral, is heart and central to the birth of the city, "In this City of Saints" ..."In this City of Saints" beloveds. Music and festivity, this city, always in throes of rhythm and energy and celebration, mariachis sing, tableside, at Mi Tierra, Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera. Yo soy un hombre sincero, "I am a truthful man," Seeger reminded in our language. A favorite event, yearly, Fiesta de los Reyes, adjacent to Fiesta Carnival, "val" carrying, or should, a Spanish-language inflection, a Mexican sound and flavor inside our mouths, this Celebration of Kings, transliterated; this Carnival, as well, adjacent, at and around The Mercado, The Mexican Market, Market Square, where we imbibe Nortena music, Tejano, a bajo sexto familiar in our air, makes us want to dance.
And we danced, under the freeway, wearing our chokers, handmade by native artisans, turquoise and silver and wood, there we were, and many, dancing cumbia or corridos in our cowboy boots and straw cowboy or gaucho hats I somehow opted for ...San Antonians and tourists, alike, coloring the streets in their lime green and bright orange garb, splashes of color, energetic and wildly rich in their hues, rosa Mexicana, bursting with vibrancy, colorful as Carolina Flores's scarves, all these colors singing; if colors could sing, this is the season they would, these women in their Mexican traditional dresses, stitched embroidery making flowers on white crisp or bright-colored linen, airy and comfortable as smocks, stand and sway while working with their hands and history and hearts---there, beautiful, wise----native women, their salt and pepper braids catching the fragrant smoke rising from their grills or a makeshift comal, fire-hot surface on which they flip their native bread, brown bubbles pocking the tortillas where heat kissed the dough, hottest, slightly darker than golden, beautiful and bronze...
So we travel on earth seeking the terrain of Poetry, walking through wilderness and empty landscape or visiting those ancient sites like Dholavira in far-western Gujarat, or Mykenai in the Greek Peloponnese, or the Arawak campsite on eastern Carriacou in the Grenadine Windward Isles, pursuing that authenticity of experience in a form of antique material reality...
These are places, strange and vague situations where death is manifold and thoroughly extant to the careful eye. There are women’s bangles made of shell to be picked up from the saline dust or small copper beads and thin chert blades, or tiny obsidian arrow-heads that can be unhidden and disclosed beneath those bloody grey walls about the Lion Gate, or beautiful indented potsherds and ceramic fragments at the waterline where the Atlantic rolls out its long blue visceral waves...
Kevin McGrath 🐚Yoga of Poetry
“Dare to live the life you have dreamed."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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