"They're Going Home In the Mission" (an election poem)
On the 48 bus no one would think
to stare, no gawking in the windows
of the poor. The poor that hate
that phrase; they wouldn't use it.
I gawk out the glass, hawking
my wits, for sale in this post-election
Mecca of my birth. My placenta dumped,
buried here 50 years over, fish into flesh
in the bay. Trumpets weave through traffic.
The ocean comes to visit in the eternal
spray, a fine mist curling the pages.
Quintana/24th to 3rd+20th, at every stop, the walkers.
How far is it to Paradise? Each
holds a different map. The birds know
the way, have traveled here, remember, tell stories.
Some told of a better future and had their tongues cut out.
Now, a pink Hello Kitty rolling backpack sounds
the calaca ritmo of Oyoyotl ascabeles, Ayoyote foot rattles.
Something sacred in the skin painted by heat,
the desire for peace, for prosperity, and for all.
Now, the calling of a single conga,
persistent with clarity reminds
of African roots; something strong in the afterword,
afterworld. A blood red armored vehicle passes.
This, too, shall pass: the strong-legged gente,
the eager children, the industrious truck
chugging away. I still wear my "I Voted!"
sticker, proudly. I like its blood red face.
Now, in this window, I remember my relatives,
all my relations, my ancestors, their guttural whispers
in the velas; how I sang to the dead
in an ancient ritual. And they heard, and confirmed.
"Ceremonies heal." And here, in the ceremonial
streets, the dead come home, heavy on their feet.
They board the bus (the yellow "First Student"
is packed.) They hustle and bustle, alive in the smile.
A new stretch limo snakes toward Mission.
Drugs? Fortune? Or fame? The skaters dare
their youthful bodies to the husky frame of an SUV,
the moving van. How far it is to the Great Highway!
My ancestors would walk. Some still do.
Some practice the art of projection. Some
handle the path of projectiles. Another eight slain
on the streets. Dripped concrete remembers the taste of blood.
The pigeons come home to roost, flagrant
in the fog. My new neighbors celebrate the passing
of a human rights bill for chickens while we humans mourn
the passing of an act to re-criminalize love.
The pigeon coos through a motorcycle cop's discussion;
his black hog blinking like an UFO. Today, red, white and
chrome are the National colors of The Mission. The Chicano cop laughs,
says to "Have a nice day!" Cantiflas mustache crooked with smile.
There is a new mission in America, here where the Américas
represent through the four directions. The colors
of the rainbow in a mural, in the murales, the many
missions of the Spirit. Here, where the heart lasts.
Here, the Quantum of Silence is silhouetted in the shadow of a gun.
The few and far between stitch the fate of a community
while the many, united, can turn the hand home.
Here, in the celebration of the many, united, going home.
Lorna Dee Cervantes
November 5, 2008